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Insect Bites on Dogs

Insect bites on dogs is a common problem faced by many dog owners. Dogs are also affected by insect bites and immediate treatment is important.
DogAppy Staff
Last Updated: Feb 23, 2018
Dogs are playful animals and are often found sniffing and exploring unusual places. They tend to sniff under bins, below the ledges, and in dark corners, and also love digging up the soil. These places are home to a number of insects and these insects bite the unsuspecting, curious dogs. Although, you may think of it as a minor insect bite, many bites lead to numerous reactions and dog allergies. Therefore, it is important to know how to treat insect bites on dogs.
Different Types of Insect Bites
Insect bites are usually due to stings of bees, wasps, hornets, or ants. If your dog is bitten by any of these insects, he may show symptoms within 20 minutes of the bite. You should keep a close watch on your dog as mild symptoms develop after 12-24 hours.
If you observe insect bites on a dog's belly, it means that the dog is bitten by either wasps or ants. Bees also sting on hairless areas of the dog. The most common place to observe insect bites is the face, head, or the inner side of the mouth. Stings and insect bites lead to inflammation and pain. This may take about an hour to subside. In case the dog is bitten by honey bees or wasps, there will be redness and the sting site will be hot to touch. If the stinger is left behind, it contains muscle tissues that keeps contracting and injecting more venom into the dog. The best way to remove the stinger is scraping it off using a credit card or a similar object. Do not use tweezers to pull out the stinger as this may cause it to release more venom.
You may also find flea or tick bites on dogs. When the dog is bitten by a flea, it is generally not one flea but a number of them that have made a home in your dog's coat. If your dog scratches and bites the various parts of his body, it means that he is infested with fleas. Ticks are also common pests that can cause serious bites. These tiny pests attach themselves to the dog's skin and suck blood till they are full. Once full, they drop off and die. This can lead to many deadly diseases in dogs and even the dog owner.
Dogs can also be bitten by spiders. There are many poisonous spider species in nature. The spider's venom can cause a reaction the minute it comes in contact with the dog's skin. Most spiders cannot penetrate their fangs into a dog's skin and do not pose much of a threat. However, black widow spiders can penetrate the skin and cause serious consequences.
Symptoms of insect bites usually include swelling on the eyelids, ear flaps, lips, and in some cases, the entire face. In this case, it is known as angiedema. If the dog is bitten on the nose or mouth, it will lead to swelling and the animal will have difficulty in breathing. Urticaria, that is, hives, wheals, or welts are observed on the skin. These bites are usually pruritic and can cause anaphylactic reactions. The other symptoms of insect bites like wheezing, weakness, unconsciousness, weak and thready pulse, increased heart rate, and fever may cause the animal to go into shock. Other insect bite symptoms may lead to cold extremities, trembling, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, and collapse.
Blood sucking insects like mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, etc. cause swelling and irritation on the bite site. These insects contain some compounds in their saliva that aggravates this effect on dog skin. You may find tiny bumps on the skin in case of fleas and even larger bumps or sores due to other insect bites. Spider bites cause large, swollen bumps. A spider bite contains an enzyme in the injected venom that leads to an allergic reaction on a dog's skin.
Few insect bites are very dangerous and some can be very irritating and painful to the dogs. You can carry out some home remedies for treating those bites that are not dangerous to the dog's health and life. In case of bee or wasp stings, apply aloe vera gel that is fresh from the plant or brought from a store, on the bite site. It helps soothe the pain and burning sensation due to the sting. You can even try applying a paste of baking soda and water several times a day on the bumps and sores.
You can apply milk of magnesia, calamine lotion, and hydrocortisone several times a day to ease the irritation. You can also apply regular oatmeal or colloidal oatmeal. As already mentioned, remember to remove the stinger with a magnifying glass using a credit card or similar object. Once the stinger is out, wash the area with a diluted solution of baking soda mixed with water. Prepare the solution by adding one part baking soda to several parts water. Apply a cold pack for several minutes to help reduce the swelling and pain. Repeat the cold pack several times a day.
You can mix 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt in 2 cups warm water and boil it. Keep it in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness. Bathe the dog with this mixture to treat irritating and itchy paws and skin. To treat hot spots, saturate a cotton ball with witch hazel and apply it on the spot for several days.
Many dogs develop allergic reactions to bites and stings that require immediate veterinary attention. If the bites are on the face, the swelling may obstruct the dog's breathing. If you find that the dog is having trouble breathing or seems disoriented, then take him to the vet immediately. In case you are not able to reach the vet immediately, give your dog some Benadryl after consulting your vet for the doses. This helps to slow the allergic reaction. You need to seek veterinary attention in case of spider bites.
It is very important to take care of your dog in case he is bitten by any insect. Even a minor mosquito bite can lead to an infection as the dog tends to keep scratching the itchy area. This leads to infection by other pathogens and can cause other problems like pus or fever. You should give the best possible dog care to your dog. Watch out for flea or tick infestation during grooming and treat it immediately. Do not take insect bites on dogs lightly.
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