Dogs are very curious creatures, and in the summer, unfortunately, that means they will be investigating all the creatures of the world with their noses and paws – the two prime targets of insect stings.
A sting on your dog’s sensitive nose is extremely painful. Some dogs may even get stung on the tongue or inside their mouth or throat if they try to bite or catch an insect. These stings can be dangerous – the subsequent swelling can close your dog’s throat and block his airway.
Multiple stings are dangerous. Most of the time, an insect sting is just painful and irritating for your dog. Getting stung several times, or stung inside the mouth or throat, is dangerous and requires a trip to the veterinarian.
Bee and wasp stings are poisons. The two most common types of stinging insects are bees and wasps. It’s not the small puncture wound that causes the sting’s pain, but the small amount of poison that is injected.
- A bee’s stinger is barbed and designed to lodge in the skin, killing the bee when the stinger detaches from the body
- Wasp stingers are not barbed but are more painful, and if provoked these insects can sting multiple times
WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF A STING
1. Remove the stinger as quickly as possible
A simple sting should be bothersome only temporarily. In most cases, there will be mild swelling and tenderness where the dog or cat was stung, usually on the face or paws. If it is swollen and a little puffy, it is a localized reaction to the sting.
If a stinger is still present, try to remove it by scraping it with a fingernail or a rigid piece of cardboard or credit card. Do not try to remove the stinger with your fingers, tweezers or forceps, because this may cause the venom sac to rupture and force more venom out of the stinger.
2. Watch for severe allergic reactions or anaphylactic shock
A severe reaction can be caused by a large number of stings or by an allergic reaction. Signs of a reaction include:
- General weakness
- Difficulty breathing
- A large amount of swelling extending away from the sting site
- Starts vomiting within 5-10 minutes
- Gums turn pale
If your dog is having a severe reaction, you need to take the dog to a vet immediately.
Depending on your dog’s condition, your pet may need to be hospitalized and the veterinarian may administer medications such as antihistamines, steroids and epinephrine as well as intravenous fluids and oxygen.
3. Administer a remedy for the pain
Wrap ice, an icepack or a pack of frozen vegetables in a towel and apply it to the wound to reduce swelling and pain. You can also run a washcloth under some cool tap water and then wrap it around or press it onto the site of the sting.
Contact your veterinarian who will advise you what over-the-counter medicine can be administered, as well as the correct dosage based on your pet’s weight.
“It’s very important to consult a doctor before giving your pets any kind of medicine, especially medicine intended for humans.“
4. Monitor your dog afterwards
Observe your dog closely after the sting incident to ensure an allergic reaction doesn’t develop and the swelling does not increase or spread. If several days pass and the swelling doesn’t go down, notify your veterinarian.