Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Lemon – A Safe, Natural Mosquito Repellent for Dogs

Unfortunately most commercially produced products (oral and topical preventatives) - designed to repel Mosquitos from your dog contain powerful chemical-based pesticides and other toxic / carcinogenic ingredients that are very harmful to your dog’s well being.

If you are in a zone in which you must use heartworm pills due to high-incidence of infection (such as New Orleans, or Florida) I suggest that you off-set the harmful side effects of heartworm pills by introducing foods into your dog’s diet that will help protect against the toxins and carcinogens found in heartworm pills. See 3.0 further below for more on using diet to offset the harmful ingredients in heartworm pills.

If you are not in a high-incident zone for heartworm infection you can try using the following lemon-based alternatives to repel mosquitoes and subsequently the infestation of heartworms…

As an alternative you can use fresh lemon to discourage mosquitoes from ‘visiting’ your dog. Even better, use organic fresh lemons!


Use Lemon in Two Ways to Help Repel Mosquitoes…

One - Topical Application;
Two - Ingested as part of your dog’s daily diet.

Read on below to find out how lemon can be your dog’s best friend…

1.0 Topical Applications

Lemon when applied topically can be used to repel insects and parasites.
Mosquitos do not like the scent of citrus…

1.1 Fresh Lemon Spot on Treatment
  • Cut a fresh lemon, (lime, orange, or grapefruit) in half and rub the cut fruit onto your dog’s fur.
  • Avoid the area immediately around your dog’s eyes and do not apply to open wounds/cuts - citrus stings!
  • Make sure you pay special attention to vulnerable (to insect) areas like ears, nose, under the tail and tummy.
  • Lemon is non-toxic to dogs so, unlike most commercially manufactured mosquito repellents – your dog will not be harmed by licking and ingesting the lemon juice!

1.2 Fresh Lemon Spray Recipe

What you will need…
  • 6 lemons, or you can use a mix of citrus
  • 1 quart of water (.95 litre)
  • 1 pot
  • 1 spray bottle
  • Cut the lemons and/or other citrus fruit in half;
  • Place the cut fruit and 1 quart of water in a pot;
  • Bring to a boil and then allow too steep for two hours;
  • Allow the resulting liquid to cool;
  • Once cool, strain the liquid to remove any pulp;
  • Pour the resulting liquid into a spray bottle;
  • Spritz your dog’s fur - remember to protect your dog’s eye from the spray;
  • To apply the spray to your dog’s face:
  • Spray the palm of your hand with the solution;
  • Rub your hands gently over your dog’s nose, around their eyes, behind the ears, around the base of the tail, under your dog’s legs, etc.
  • If your dog is going to be outside for a good portion of the day - repeat the spray application every 2 to 3 hours.
  • Store the spray in the refrigerator.

1.3 Mosquito Repelling Collar Drops
You can put a few drops of lemon-oil or 1 drop of essential lemon-oil on your dog’s collar to further discourage misquotes.

To make your own lemon-oil…
You will need…
  • 2 lemons,
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Peel the rind from the lemons;
  • Place oil and lemon rinds in a sauce pan;
  • Place on very low heat for 20 minutes;
  • Allow to cool;
  • Strain and pour into a bottle.

2.0 Ingested Treatment
Adding fresh lemon to your dog’s daily diet is simple…

Preparing the Lemon
  • Freeze a whole lemon and grate a little over your dog’s food;
  • Add fresh lemon juice to your dog’s water bowl – remember to change the lemon water on a daily basis.
  • Add fresh-finely minced lemon to your dog’s food.
  • Peel the lemon and slice it into 4 to 6 pieces;
  • Remove the seeds;
  • Finely chop/mince the sections of lemon - I use a food processor to do this;
  • Add the finely minced lemon to your dogs’ food once a day;
  • Store any remaining minced lemon in an air tight glass container (in the refrigerator) for several days.  
Adding The Lemon to The Daily Diet
  • Start by using the half the recommended lowest dosage in your dog's size range - see 'Daily Dosage' below;
    • Over the space of a week to 10 days gradually increase the amount of lemon to the lowest recommended dosage for your dog's size range;
    • You can then increase to the higher dosage in your dog's range if you would like to do so.
Daily Dosage (non-therapeutic)
  • X-Small dogs - 1/16 to 1/4 tsp/day
  • Small dogs - 1/4 to 1 tsp/day
  • Medium dogs - 1 to 2 tsp/day
  • Large dogs - 2  to 3 tsp/day
  • X-Large dogs 3 to 4 tsp/day
If you would like to know more about the health benefits of lemon for your dog – the benefits are numerous...you can read more here ᵔᴥᵔ

If you would like to look at additional DIY options for repelling mosquitoes you can take a look at this article.

3.0 If You Must Give Your Dog Heartworm Pills…

I recommend that you expand your dog’s diet to help off-set the damage that the toxins and carcinogens in heartworm pills can reek on your dog’s long-term health. Include some simple, natural foodstuffs in your dog’s diet that boosts this/her immune system, detoxifies the body and protects against cancer…

The following foods can be added to your dog’s daily diet – simply top-off your dog’s existing food (kibble, raw-food, or home-made cooked food) with the following once a day…
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – organic, unpasteurized
    • Small size dogs - 1 tsp
      Medium size dogs – 1tbs
    • Large dogs – 1.5 to 2 tbs
  • Cranberries - fresh/frozen finely chopped cranberries (no sugar added)
    • Small size dogs - 1 tbs
      Medium size dogs – 1.5 to 2 tbs tbs
    • Large dogs – 2 to 3 tbs
  • Coconut Oil – read more about coconut oil here – benefits, dosage
  • Garlic - fresh, chopped – read more about garlic here.
    • Dosage for Garlic...
    • 1 clove/1 tsp chopped garlic per every 30 lbs of body weight;
  • Lemon - fresh, finely chopped
    • Small size dogs - 1 tsp
    • Medium size dogs - 1 tbs
    • Large dogs - 1.5 to 2 tbs
  • Kefir – read more about kefir (and/or sauerkraut) and how to introduce it to your dog’s diet here. Kefir is a powerful probiotic and should be introduced in small amounts, building up to the full dosage…
    Dosage for kefir:
    • Small size dogs - 1 tsp
    • Medium size dogs - 1 tbs
    • Large dogs - 11/2 to 2 tbs
  • Omega Fatty Acids – make sure your dog is getting the right balance of Omega fatty acids – I have yet to see a commercially made dog food that has the Omega 3:6 Fatty acids properly balanced. You will need to add some good-source Omega 3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet – read more here and choose the Omega 3 you want to use.
  • Turmeric – read more about turmeric here - benefits, dosage

For items such as cranberries and lemon…
  • I chop (the finer the better) enough of the foodstuff in the food processor to last several days to a week;
  • Then I put the chopped food in containers - plastic (BPA free) or glass;
  • I leave the appropriate sized measuring spoon in the container – this little convenience makes it faster to prepare the meal at feeding time ᵔᴥᵔ
For more information on conventional heart worm preventatives, risks, zones and alternative interventions you can click here

4.0 Holistic Support

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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld. 


  1. Hi Karen,

    If you lived in a medium to high risk area for heartworm, would you feel confident enough with the lemon alone? I really don't want to continue to use these toxic heartworm preparations, but the medicines used to get rid of heartoworm in dogs are even worse.

    1. Hi Jellybean,
      Please take a look at this article - my full recommendations are provided there :>) http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2013/03/does-your-dog-really-need-to-be-on.html

    2. I was wondering if I could use Lemon juice instead?

    3. If it is freshly squeezed lemon juice, yes but make sure you either mix it into the food or you dilute it with some green tea or water. Lemon juice on its own can damage tooth enamel.

  2. Would lemon ward off Mosquitos from kids? My grandson like my brother for some reason bugs are attracted to his skin and he gets bit all the time! He is also allergic to bee stings and we have to keep an eppie pen with us at all times. All though we don't get Mosquitos like they do in the south, we still get some. I know their are certain smells they don't like and you can use essential oils on cotton balls around your home, I put mine in those tiny glass containers made for the small candles, works great!

  3. Hi Nancy, yes lemon and citrus can be used on humans too to repel mosquitoes and other insects:>)

  4. Hi Karen, I do live in high heart worm and tick area here in New York state and only feed my two dogs raw diet. They also only get the rabies vacc every 3 years due to the law and no other vaccs. My question to you is, do you put all of the above foods in the dog's daily diet or only some of them? Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Kelly, all of the food items can be used on a daily basis to offset the harmful effects of the chemicals/toxins in the heartworm pills :>)

      My 10 dogs, various breeds from small tea cup size to German Shepherds eat those items and more on a daily basis.

      Cheers, K

    2. Great! Thanks for the info and the quick reply!

    3. You are welcome ᵔᴥᵔ you just happened to catch me when I was working on-line :>)

  5. Can I use lemon juice instead??

  6. Hi Karen,

    Can i use lime juice as a mosquito reppelent for my 1.5yrs old yellow labrador??
    Kindly advice

  7. Hi Nimmy, Yes you can mix fresh lemon juice with fresh lime juice, grapefruit, orange. You can also check out these other DIY repellants http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2013/05/diy-natural-herbal-homeopathic-flea_18.html Cheers, K

  8. Dear Karen,

    I have several dogs at my home and wanting to know if giving the version of lemons in my dogs food can I still use the spray? I have long haired dogs and would like to know how to spray a dog with lemon on a long haired dog. Thank you!

    1. Yes you can still use the lemon spray if lemon is in your dog's diet.

      You can spray some of the mixture on your hands and rub it in their fur and then just give another spray on top of their fur.

      You can also try the sprays in this article http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2013/05/diy-natural-herbal-homeopathic-flea_18.html

      Cheers, K

  9. We were wondering if the lemon juice will dry out the dogs skin ?

  10. We were wondering if the lemon juice will dry out our dogs coats ?

    1. Hi Joseph!

      The lemon will not dry out Lulu's skin - if fact it is good for her skin http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2013/01/fresh-lemon-good-for-dogs-many-health.html

      Orange is also good for Lulu as are many other fruits - you can take a look at a list of safe fruit for dogs in this article http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2012/02/fresh-whole-food-for-your-dogs-health.html

      My dogs eat some orange and/or other citrus daily. In addition they get a little peel finely minced with their daily dos of lemon http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2013/01/fresh-lemon-good-for-dogs-many-health.html

      While you would not want Lulu to eat a large amount of peel daily a small amount is ok. Citrus oil in large amounts is not good for dogs - the peel contains the oil. If the amount of peel being ingested is minimal it will not harm her. Of course organic is best as the peel will not have or be infused with pesticide residue.

      Organic Apple Cider Vinegar added to LuLu's daily diet would be good for her skin as well http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2013/02/apple-cider-is-good-for-your-dog-and.html

      Thank you for your beautiful email :>)Early yesterday a tornado and severe t-storms came through my area knocking out many things including my electrical power and internet, and then of course the on my blackberry went down, just after I saw your lovely email come through yesterday. I have so much mail to get through now as a result but when I have a quite moment I will watch Lulu's and Boo's videos. I understand how you feel when you think of Roxy and Boo - it is how I think of my first dog Shanny (http://www.ottawavalleydogwhisperer.com/My-Pack_Shanny.html#.UerrCm0sa64) who was my best friend and soul mate.

      Make sure you read my articles on Dog food and think about making homemade food for Lulu to keep her away from all the toxins and carcinogens in commercially made dog food. Boxer's are so prone to health issues and it would help her health and longevity! Easiest way to go through all the articles on food and health care is by going to the index page http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/p/index-of-articles.html

      Please give Lulu a hug for me and as well from my Boxer-boy Robbie!

      Pawhugs, Karen

  11. We were wondering if the lemon juice will dry out the dogs skin ?

  12. Hi Karen,

    I was wondering if lemon would help deter deer flies from biting my GSD. They seem to be very attracted to her.


    1. Hi Carol,

      You will need to use a more potent spray to deter the the deer fly so use the '4 Thieves Vinegar - Extra Strength Spray' recipe in the 'Herbal Sprays' section of this article http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2013/05/diy-natural-herbal-homeopathic-flea_18.html#uds-search-results

      The deer fly favor my larger girl GSD too!

      Cheers Karen

    2. Thanks very much, I will give it a try.

      Carol & Sierra

  13. Hi Karen,

    How long does the lemon spray last before it expires? Also, I wrote you a few days ago regarding my schnoodle Louie and how he was just diagnosed with acid reflux. I read your article on GERD and can't wait for the results to kick in! I'm positive the changes in his diet will help Louie tremendously. Thanks so very much for taking the time to write these articles :-)

    Rachel & Louie

    1. Hi Rachel -

      Reapplication of the spray on the dog would be required several times a day or if the dog gets wet.

      The lemon spray can last for a couple of weeks if stored in the refrigerator.

      - Cheers, K

  14. Sorry, did the 6 lemon spray and had little or no effect on black flies and mosquitoes. Maybe we live too north in the bush.

    1. You would need to use one of these http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.ca/diy-natural-herbal-flea-tick-mosquito-repellent-sprays-rubs-dips-rinse-for-dogs-and-cats/

  15. What would you recommend for someone planning a cross country trip with new orleans and other mosquito prone areas from the western states? We are not bothered by mosquitoes where we live.Our sweetpea is not on heartworm preventative.

    1. Holistic protection must be approached from two fronts - the inside via diet and the outside via topical application. For that type of advice you would require a consultation.

  16. Thank u very much i am really thank full to u . as i am an asthma patient i cannot use mosquito repellent . So i was trying for a natural solution

    1. The lemon may not be strong enough if your mosquito population is aggressive - in which case you may need one of these http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2013/05/diy-natural-herbal-homeopathic-flea_18.html

  17. I'm pretty sure garlic is toxic to dogs.

    1. Incorrect Kimberly - very much so. Garlic is a VERY important holistic nutraceutical used in many applications of holistic canine alternative medicine and an essential element in a holistic daily diet for dogs. Read here http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2012/06/garlic-for-dogs-health-benefits.html If you really want to find out what is actually bad for dogs read my articles on commercial dry dog food.

  18. Dear Karen, I love your site. It's very informative and I'm glad I stumbled upon it when I got my first dog. So now he enoys his raw diet and benefits from natural healing solutions. I also clean my appartment naturally (I wipe the floor with a wet cloth dotted with 10-12 drops od lemon e.o., and clean bathroom floor with diluted white vinegar). Can that harm my 5-month old dog? And does it help repelling fleas? Thanks for you answer.

  19. Hi karen i have an 11 month old american staffy. She has never bein treated for heart worm and is constantly getting bitten by mosquitos as we live near a lake. Could any of these remedies get rid of heart worm if she may already have it ?

    1. Hi Louise - best defense against heart worm infestation is a properly designed diet. I have 11 dogs - none are on any veterinarian prescribed insect/parasite 'preventatives', and I have lots of mosquitoes in all seasons but winter. Pesticide -based 'preventatives' are deathly. To rid a dog of a heart worm infestation using holistic methods requires a properly designed ingested treatment plus a properly designed diet.

  20. Hi Karen,
    Thanks for your tips against mosquitoes. I like your diet suggestions as well but would like to get your thoughts on the garlic. My vet (who is awesome and also works in emergency clinics after hours) strongly disagrees with a garlic being added to dogs food as he states it is toxic and can lead to severe problems. I have read more on this topic and there seems to be a division between people who give garlic to their dogs and those who do not. I have a 3 year old Bullmastiff that weighs around 200 pounds.What are your thoughts on recommended daily intake?

    1. Your veterinarian is allopathicly trained - his comments are 100% reflective of that. Allopathic veterinarians typically know NOTHING about nutrition - if they did they would not sell the toxic, carcinogenic food that they make a huge profit on retailing in their offices.

      Read my article on garlic.

  21. Hello Karen, The lemon seems to be working fine for Floyd( a rescue pitt / mastiff mix) as well as for me. Thanks =) However, Floyd keeps getting bit by tons of flies they leave welts all over him. I can only leave him outside for a short period of time and he loves it outside. Any advise would be great. Thanks Bill

    1. Hi Bill, use a more potent insect deterrent - choose one of these http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2013/05/diy-natural-herbal-homeopathic-flea_18.html

      Deer flies and horse flies are at their peak mid-july to August.


Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats