DIY natural bug spray for dogs


As summer approaches, so does the dreaded mosquito season. Protect your pooch from these annoying pests by buying or making your own natural bug spray for dogs.

Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance. They can cause itchiness, swelling, and pain if your dog is sensitive to them. Even worse, mosquitoes can spread deadly diseases like heartworm. Prevention is the best treatment, so find a pet-safe, natural bug spray to keep the mosquitoes and other pests away.

The cons of DEET

When it comes to bug spray, we typically reach for the strongest, most effective products we know. Bug repellents containing DEET are often the most popular choice.

The chemical works by absorbing through the skin and entering the bloodstream. This makes it effective at repelling mosquitos, fleas, ticks, and even black flies.

Though DEET is effective, it also carries some risk. DEET is a neurotoxin, meaning it can affect the central nervous system of both mammals and insects.

Sounds dangerous, right? So, ditch the DEET and check out some natural alternatives to keep your dog safe from pests this summer.

Try natural!

Having trouble finding a bug spray formulated for pets? Here’s a little secret:

In Canada, products labeled as bug spray must be classified as an insecticide. You won’t find a lot of commercially-made bug sprays for dogs due to the strict regulations around insecticides.

This doesn’t mean that bug repellent products for pets don’t exist; it just means they will probably be called something else. Look for products labelled as coat conditioners or outdoor sprays.

These products will use natural pest repelling ingredients like:

  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Lemon Eucalyptus
  • Citronella
  • Clove
  • Peppermint
  • Neem
  • Basil
  • Catnip
  • Rosemary

Homemade bug spray for dogs

If you are looking to make your own natural bug spray, here’s a basic recipe – and some safety tips – to follow:


  • 2 oz distilled water
  • 5 oz witch hazel
  • 10–20 drops of your chosen essential oils (total, not each)


  1. Mix distilled water and witch hazel in a small spray bottle.
  2. Add essential oils. Don’t exceed 20 drops per 3–4 oz of liquid, as the mixture and the scent will be too strong.
  3. Screw on the lid and shake to disperse the oils. Shake the bottle before each use.
  4. Larger batches can be made by doubling or tripling the recipe.


Although these products use natural ingredients, you still need to avoid spraying it directly into the eyes and mouth. Instead, spray your hands and gently massage the blend onto your dog’s face.

Pay special attention to the most accessible areas of your dog. Their face, belly, and legs will be the easiest targets for pests that are hiding in the grass, like ticks.

If you have a multi-pet household, make sure the oils you choose are safe for both dogs and cats. Some plants, like citronella, can be toxic if ingested. If the product you’re using contains essential oils, check to make sure they’re pure and of high quality.

Lastly, natural bug sprays for dogs are not as long-lasting as sprays containing DEET, so be prepared to reapply more often, especially on longer outdoor adventures like hiking or camping.

With a little extra research, you can protect your dog from pests the natural way this summer!