Treating Bug Bites & Stings

Insect stings and bug bites can happen any time of year, outside or inside. So don’t think that your dog won’t encounter an angry biting/stinging bug just because the weather is turning cooler and he isn’t outside as much.

Bees, spiders, wasps, hornets, ants and centipedes are just a few of the insects that can deliver a painful bite or sting to your unsuspecting dog. However, your dog's physical reaction and the treatment he requires will vary depending on the nature of the sting.

Flying insects

Stings from bees, wasps or hornets can cause painful swelling in the affected area. To treat this type of a sting, the first thing you need to do is locate the stinger if it is still penetrating your dog. Using a pair of tweezers, gently remove the stinger. Then, to help relieve the itching and burning, apply a baking soda poultice (1 tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to create a paste that you can apply to the swollen area). A cold compress will also help alleviate the pain and swelling. If you don't have a cold compress, a bag of frozen vegetables will do the trick. If your dog continues to scratch at the area, call your vet.

Creepy, crawly bugs

Spider bites will also result in painful swelling around the area where your dog has been bitten. Unless you suspect that the bite may be from a venomous spider, the bite should be treated in the same way as a bee sting. The symptoms of a dog that has been bitten by a venomous spider include chills, fever, difficulty breathing, and shock—usually beginning from 30 minutes after the bite to as much as 6 hours later. Excessive swelling of the area can also cause severe inflammation and irritation. If you notice these signs, apply ice to the bitten area to slow the spread of venom. Then take your dog to the vet immediately.

"Interior" stings and bites

If your dog has been stung or bitten inside his mouth, you'll have a bit of a challenge ahead of you—but it's not impossible to treat. To help reduce swelling, give your dog ice cubes to lick or a bowl of ice water. Then take him to a veterinarian immediately. Excessive swelling from a bite inside the mouth can cause difficulty breathing and swallowing.

Finally, if your dog starts to show signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives or lethargy, or if you think the bite may be poisonous, take your dog to the vet right away.

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