Biting Insects and Your Dog
Insect bites are usually not serious. However, some insects spread diseases such as heartworm, anaplasmosis, Lyme disease and other ailments.
Insect bites are usually not serious. However, some insects spread diseases such as heartworm, anaplasmosis, Lyme disease and other ailments. Insect bites can also be venomous, trigger allergic reactions or become infected. In order to provide proper pet care, you need to know proper first aid for bites and stings, be aware of what constitutes a medical emergency and know how to prevent insect bites from occurring.
First Aid for Insect Bites
Cleaning minor stings and bites and providing pain relief are things you can do for your dog at home. If your pet suffers a bee sting or a bug bite, your first action should be to assess the situation. If there is a stinger in the wound or a tick attached, you need to remove it. After this, you should clean the area with soap and water. Make sure to rinse thoroughly with water to flush dirt and bacteria from the wound. Once the bite or sting is clean, you can apply ice or cool cloths to reduce swelling or inflammation. If your dog seems to be itchy or uncomfortable, call your veterinarian. Do not use over the counter medications on your pet or give your pet any drug without consulting a veterinarian. Not all human medications are safe for dogs, and doses for humans and dogs are not equivalent. Your veterinarian can advise you on appropriate medication for your pet.
When to See a Veterinarian
While most stings and bites do not require veterinary care, serious problems can develop. In rare cases, dogs can develop life-threatening allergic reactions very soon after receiving insect bites. Signs of an allergic reaction include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Facial swelling.
If your dog shows any of these signs, take your pet to an emergency veterinarian immediately.
Even if your dog shows no immediate reaction to the insect bite, you still need to remain alert. Watch your pet for the next few days to make sure the bite wound heals properly. If the wound worsens after the first day, becomes painful, red, swollen or leaks puss, your dog likely has an infection that needs veterinary care. In addition, if your dog develops a fever, becomes lethargic, loses its appetite, begins to have episodes of diarrhea or vomiting or acts generally ill, you also need to see your veterinarian. This is especially important if your dog has a history of tick bites or is not on a tick preventative medication such as Advantix or Frontline for dogs.
Preventing Insect Bites and Insect Borne Diseases
The best way to protect your dog from becoming ill due to insect bites or stings is to practice regular insect prevention. Some steps you can take include:
- Keeping standing water out of your yard to prevent mosquito breeding.
- Cleaning all carpets and bedding if your dog has been in contact with fleas.
- Checking your dog for ticks regularly.
- Using appropriate insect repellents.
- Keeping your dog out of areas with heavy insect populations.
- Using screens on your doors and windows to keep bugs out of the house.
By doing these things, you will help keep your pet’s contact with potentially dangerous insects to a minimum.
In addition to other measures, all dogs need to be on a monthly flea preventative medication, such as Frontline for dogs or Advantage, and a monthly heartworm preventative such as Heartgard or Interceptor. Dogs in tick heavy areas also need tick preventatives. Products combining flea and tick protection are available. It is, however, important to remember that all flea control medications do not control ticks. For example, Advantage is not effective against ticks, while K9 Advantix and Frontline for dogs prevent ticks as well as fleas.