Ten Things You Need to Know About EEE Virus & Your Pets

As much as we love the fall weather, it’s important to remember that it’s still prime mosquito season in most parts of the United States. These pests can carry a number of dangerous diseases, including Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and heartworm.

What You Need to Know About EEE and Mosquitoes

1. Eliminate Standing Water

Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so it’s important to eliminate any stagnant water sources around your house. Mosquitoes are attracted to water in bird baths, pool covers, and unchlorinated kiddie pools, but they can also breed in small containers like cups, container lids, and unattended water bowls. Make sure to regularly empty and clean any containers that collect water and keep your pets’ water bowls fresh and clean.

2. Understand Mosquito Behavior

Mosquitoes typically fly at a speed of 1-1.5 miles per hour, and some can travel up to 7 miles to breed and spread disease between areas and animals.[2] Mosquitoes can spread diseases like EEE and West Nile virus through their bites, which can have serious consequences for both humans and pets. Understanding mosquito behavior can help you take preventative measures to protect your pets.

3. Know the Lifespan of Female Mosquitoes

Female mosquitoes are the ones that bite animals and spread diseases. The average lifespan of a female mosquito is 2-3 weeks, but they can survive up to six months in the right environment.[3] This means that eliminating mosquitoes can be a long-term process, and it’s important to take preventative measures regularly.

4. Females Feed Off Blood for Egg Maturation

Female mosquitoes feed off blood from mammals, birds, and reptiles to mature their eggs before laying them. If they don’t acquire blood, their eggs will not be viable and hatch[4]. It’s important to note that male mosquitoes feed only on plant nectar and do not spread diseases.

5. Mosquito Eggs Can Survive a Drought

In some cases, mosquito eggs can survive a drought. If they receive water after an eight-month dry period, eggs can hatch and go from larvae to adults in just a week. [5]This means that even after a dry period, you should continue to take preventative measures to protect your pets.

6. Eastern Equine Encephalitis Can Affect Your Pets

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been in the news recently due to human infections, but it can also be transmitted to cats, dogs, and horses.[6] The prevalence of EEE and heartworm diseases is unclear, and treatment can be expensive, impacting the quality of life for pets.

7. Increase Resistance to All Infectious Diseases

Both EEE and heartworm diseases are preventable by improving balance, which increases resistance to all infectious diseases. You can protect your pets by decreasing the number of mosquitoes around your house whenever possible.

Mosquitos spread EEE and heartworm so work to improve your pets’ balance and decrease the number of mosquitoes around your house whenever possible to prevent problems since treatment is expensive, impacts the quality of life, and is risky.[7]

8. Cats Can Also Get Heartworm

Cats can get heartworm from mosquitoes, but the disease and symptoms display differently than they do in dogs. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of preventative action for your feline friend.

9. Higher Than Average Risk Expected This Year

This year, there is an expected higher-than-average risk of mosquito-borne diseases across most of the country due to the warm fall and excess moisture. Stay vigilant in protecting your pets during this time.

10. Mosquito Bites Can Cause Skin Irritation and Allergic Reactions

Even mosquitos not carrying disease can cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in pets – much like traditional allergic reactions10. While not much peer-reviewed literature exists mosquito bite allergies, many incidents of reactions to mosquito bites have been widely reported by pet owners.

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus can cause illness in dogs or cats, however infection is quite rare11. Most pets that do become infected with EEE, or even West Nile virus, fully recover from infection. 

Protecting your Pets from Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) Virus and other Mosquito-borne Illnesses

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus, a rare but serious mosquito-borne illness, can also affect dogs and cats. While most pets recover fully from EEE or other mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile virus, it’s important to recognize the signs and take proactive measures to protect your pets from mosquitos. Here are some tips:

Recognizing the Signs of Triple E in Pets

Pets infected with EEE may exhibit symptoms such as fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, weakness, uncoordinated movement, head pressing, circling, seizures, tremors, irritability, blindness, or coma. However, not all animals with signs of encephalitis have infections like EEE. It is important to seek veterinary attention if your pet exhibits any of these symptoms as definitive diagnosis requires ruling out other important diseases.[11]

Preventing Mosquito-borne Illnesses in Pets

The most effective short-term solution to decrease the risk of EEE virus is to keep your pet indoors during high-risk times such as early morning, dusk, and overnight. In addition to this, there are a number of other steps we can take to protect our pets from mosquitos and mitigate the risk of viruses and disease.

Boosting your Pet’s Immune System through Diet

The first, and often last, line of defense is an animal’s own immune system. A diet rich in whole foods, antioxidants and fresh components is more cost-effective over the long term than care for a chronically ill pet. The right nutrition can often yield more vitality and immune function. While the “best food” for pets is wildly debatable – the most important factor to consider is your own pet’s individuality.

Using Natural Sprays to Repel Mosquitos

For animals that spend time in an outdoor kennel or open porch, natural sprays like cedar, rose geranium, and other essential oils can be used extremely effectively, although application is required more frequently than chemical pesticides. Growing evidence indicates long term risk of chemical use on their pets or yards for both humans and pets. The natural options that contain essential oil blends can be extremely safe for animals and effective on pests when used properly.[12] Cedarwood oil repels and kills mosquitos, fleas, and ticks. It can be used on pet bedding, plants and directly on pets when properly diluted. In addition, lemongrass, peppermint, and rosemary repel mosquitos when applied to animals, furniture, carpet, and bedding, but are not typically used to treat plants or outdoor areas.

Medications for Mosquito-borne Disease Prevention

Several veterinary-provided and over-the-counter medications available remain the most popular choice for pet owners and parasite and related disease prevention. However, all do have risks – especially if package directions are not adhered to or these are used for ill pets. It is also imperative to check if your particular preventative is safe for puppies, pregnant dog, or dogs currently being bred.[12]

Chemical Yard Treatments to Keep Mosquitos at Bay

Chemical yard treatments available typically involve a pesticide granule to keep mosquitos at bay. While they can be effective, it is important to use these chemical products cautiously, sparingly and never mix commercial products. Increased exposure to pesticides has been linked to allergy, inflammation or nervous system complications in both pets and people.

For optimal Vitality and health of your pet, always use these chemical products cautiously, sparingly and never mix commercial products. Take time to read the ingredients and directions before applying any chemicals, and watch for adverse effects. In fact, many treatments prohibit animal contact until the application is dry or for 1-7 days in some instances.

Making the Best Choice for your Pets

With so many options to manage the risks of mosquitos and other insects, making the best choice for your animals can be stressful. Having a trusted holistic veterinary advisor will help decrease this anxiety of uncertainty. Use of prescriptions, store-bought options, natural treatments or a combination are up to you and depend on your animal’s health, lifestyle, and location14. An animal that spends more time by water or woods may require a different strategy then a dog living in a city apartment or a cat that is strictly indoors. It is best to research your options and discuss them with a trusted veterinarian.

With so many options to manage the risks of mosquitos and other insects, making the best choice for your animals can be stressful. Having a trusted holistic veterinary advisor will help decrease this anxiety of uncertainty.

It is also vital to review their diet regularly and get annual testing for heartworm and other insect-borne diseases. If you notice any changes in your pets’ BEAM (Behavior, Energy, Appetite Mood) that may suggest they are under the weather, do not delay in seeking vet treatment!

Proactive preventative health measures through lifestyle, diet and other preventative strategies are always more effective than reactive treatment.

This entry is offered for informational purposes only and should not replace the advice from a qualified veterinarian. Be sure to discuss all concerns with your veterinarian in order to help all involved make an informed decision when it comes to the care of your pets.


1. Cheng G, Liu Y, Wang P, Xiao X. Mosquito Defense Strategies against Viral Infection. Trends Parasitol. 2016;32(3):177-186. doi:10.1016/j.pt.2015.09.009

2. FAQ – American Mosquito Control Association. FAQ – American Mosquito Control Association. Accessed September 30, 2019.

3. Mosquito Lifespan: How Long Do Mosquitoes Live? (From Egg To Death). End Mosquitoes. Mosquito Lifespan: How Long Do Mosquitoes Live? (From Egg To Death). Published December 25, 2018. Accessed October 1, 2019.

4. User S. Jackson Township – Mosquitoes. Jackson Township – Mosquitoes. Accessed September 30, 2019.

5. Zika, Mosquitoes, and Standing Water | | Blogs | CDC. Zika, Mosquitoes, and Standing Water | | Blogs | CDC. Accessed September 30, 2019.

6. Symptoms & Treatment | Eastern Equine Encephalitis | CDC. Symptoms & Treatment | Eastern Equine Encephalitis | CDC. Published May 22, 2019. Accessed September 30, 2019.

7. Incidence Maps – American Heartworm Society. https://www.heartwormsociety.org/veterinary-resources/client-education/incidence- maps. Accessed September 30, 2019.

8. Heartworm in Cats – American Heartworm Society. Heartworm in Cats – American Heartworm Society. Accessed September 30, 2019.

9. What mosquito-borne and tick-borne infections are threatening your pet in 2019? | Pets & Parasites: The Pet Owner’s Parasite Resource. https://www.petsandparasites.org/expert- insights/2019forecasts/. Accessed September 30, 2019.

10. Insect Bite Reaction in Dogs. vca_corporate. vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/insect-bite- reaction-in-dogs. Accessed September 30, 2019.
11. WNV and EEE in Animals. Mass.gov. https://www.mass.gov/service-details/wnv-and-eee- in-animals. Accessed October 1, 2019.

12. Protect Your Pets From Dangerous Lawn Chemicals | Midwest Pesticide Action Center. Protect Your Pets From Dangerous Lawn Chemicals | Midwest Pesticide Action Center. Accessed October 4, 2019.

13. US EPA O. EPA Evaluation of Pet Spot-on Products: Analysis and Plans for Reducing Harmful Effects. US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/pets/epa-evaluation-pet-spot-products- analysis-and-plans-reducing-harmful-effects. Published March 27, 2013. Accessed September 30, 2019.

14. Dr. Jeffrey Levy DVM PCH :: Classical Veterinary Homeopathy : Heartworm. https://www.homeovet.net/content/lifestyle/section4.html. Accessed September 30, 2019.