Do Gnats Bite Dogs? How to Prevent Gnat Bites

dog outdoors surrounded by gnats

Not only do gnats bite dogs, but the bites can cause a significant amount of discomfort. Gnats target the ears, which is why you’ll often see dog’s paw at their ears when spending time outside. The best way to prevent gnats from biting your dog is to use insect repellent when your dog goes out. 

There are many dangers that dog owners should be aware of, but are gnats one of them? There’s no way those tiny little insects can cause harm to our furry friends, right? Wrong!

First, it is important to understand what a gnat is, where they are most prevalent, and if they carry any diseases (like mosquitos). Next, we need to figure out if they are capable of biting a dog.

Let’s start by discussing what a Gnat is.

What is a Gnat?

Most people know a gnat is an insect, but are less familiar with its anatomy. Having an understanding of what a gnat is, what it looks like, and where you may see one is a good idea for dog owners.

All gnats are considered a fly, but there are different types of gnats, such as black gnats, midges, sandflies, eye gnats, etc. 

Regardless of the type, a gnat has two wings, which they use to fly, and are usually found doing so in large swarms. 

Gnats have a powerful sense of smell because of the odor receptors on their antennae (this is important to remember as you make your way through this article). They can detect their preferred food sources, which emit sweet scents, like those emitted from fruit, moisture, garbage, and houseplants. 

They also are attracted to moist areas like your bathroom or kitchen. This is because their preferred foods include fruits, vegetables, fermenting or decomposing organic matter (e.g., plants, food, or animals), or slime generated by moisture (e.g., near the garbage cans or disposal, or poorly maintained drains). 

In other words, you will most likely see gnats in warm wet areas around potential food sources because this is where they can survive.

Do Gnats Carry Diseases?

Many insects carry disease. The type of disease depends on where the insect is from. 

There are certain diseases that are more prevalent in certain places around the world. This is important because if gnats bite and carry diseases, they could transfer such diseases to dogs (if the disease is transferable). 

Certain diseases might not be transferable to humans, but can transfer to animals. Most commonly, gnats in the United States (U.S.) do not carry as many diseases compared to gnats in other countries. 

However, gnats from the U.S. have occasionally been found to have infectious diseases associated with bacteria or viruses. 

This Includes diseases such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), bluetongue, an organism that causes sandfly fever, cutaneous, visceral leishmaniasis, and Onchocerciasis (River Blindness). 

Out of these, pink eye is the most common, but other diseases are occasionally reported in the U.S.

Can a Gnat Bite?

Some living beings don’t bite other living beings, but do gnats fall into this category? Below, we will talk about whether or not gnats can bite, and if so, if they would bite dogs. 

Within a gnat’s physical characteristics, they have mouths with teeth that could be used to bite. Considering their food sources, gnats must have teeth to break down fruits, vegetables, or other organic material they may want to eat. 

In this context, gnats bite; however, do they bite living things? 

Some gnats are considered “biting gnats,” which are generally females. This is because the female gnat may need the nutrients found in the blood to ensure the health of her eggs.

Would a Gnat Bite a Dog?

A gnat that needs blood for nutrition is not picky about where it gets it, whether it’s a human or a dog (for example). 

This means they might bite a dog, but how? 

Some dogs may have a shorter coat that allows easy access to their skin or may already have areas that have skin exposed.

If a gnat can access an area of skin, it can bite it.

What Are the Dangers of Gnat Bites?

Now that we know gnats can and will bite dogs, we ought to be aware of any potential consequences that could result from bites.

We will also look at ways to prevent gnat bites so you don’t face any of these consequences. If a dog gets bit by a gnat and symptoms arise, it’s important to treat the symptoms as soon as possible.

There are a number of health issues that could result from a gnat bite (or any bug bite for that matter). A bug bite can cause discomfort around the location of the bite, resulting in itchiness, redness, and swelling. 

If the dog is experiencing these symptoms, it could have the urge to bite, itch, or scratch the area, which could cause further discomfort, irritation, infection, or injury. 

However, in some cases, the symptoms will be much more severe than just irritation.  As previously mentioned, some gnats carry bacteria or viruses that can cause issues and grow into legitimate conditions. 

For example, an eye gnat may be found as the culprit of conjunctivitis (pinkeye), which is an inflammation and infection resulting from bacteria and/or viruses and is considered highly contagious.

How to Prevent Gnat Bites

Preventing and treating gnat bites is important, especially if you know your dog is sensitive to bug bites. Considering a gnat’s characteristics, they are more prevalent in late spring to early summer in most areas, especially in damp or moist conditions.

Being aware of this will help you avoid accidentally sending your dog out into a swarm of gnats. You may also want to avoid bodies of water or take part in outdoor activities in areas where they may live. 

Another way to prevent gnat bites is to deter them by avoiding scented products or using insect repellent. To keep gnats out of the home, it may be necessary to remove house plants, which could be a gnat habitat.

How to Treat Gnat Bites

Home remedies to treat gnat bites include using a cold compress, cleaning the area with soap and water, and/or using Antihistamines like Benadryl. 

Owners can administer Benadryl to their pups based on the size of the dog and the dosing instructions. A dog between 4-10 pounds can be given ¼ a tablet, a dog between 10-20 pounds can be given ½ a tablet, a dog between 20-30 pounds can be given a whole table, and larger dogs can be given 1 tablet per 25 pounds of body weight. 

If home remedies don’t seem to help or if additional symptoms exist that could be related to something more concerning, it may be necessary to seek medical attention. In those circumstances, it may be required to treat a dog’s condition using prescription medication, like steroids or antibiotics.

Yes, Gnats Bite Dogs

Gnats are insects similar to mosquitoes. Like mosquitos, gnats may bite and cause minor skin irritations or could carry bacteria or viruses that may cause serious health issues.

It is important to consider where gnats may thrive to avoid such areas or prevent the possibility of a gnat bite. 

Sometimes, it is impossible to completely avoid gnats, so additional prevention might be necessary, like using insect repellent. 

If a gnat bites a dog, it could cause minor issues to severe issues. Overall, dog owners should be diligent and pay attention to detail. 

It may be worth checking a dog’s skin periodically, especially during the hotter months, so if there is a skin issue related to a gnat bite.

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