Treating Insect Bites on Pets

We've got some guidelines to help make this task a little easier.

Warm weather seasons don't just bring higher temperatures, but they also bring with them a greater number of insects. The emergence of new flowers and greenery in the spring, makes it impossible to avoid insect bites on your pets. Treating insect bites on your pets requires patience and gentleness, but is not difficult. We'll give you some guidelines to help make that task easier.

When your dog or cat is suffering from a bite or sting from a pesky insect, it can make them quite uncomfortable and perhaps even a bit irritable. By applying these simple solutions, you will help minimize the aftermath of a nasty bug encounter and your pet will recover quickly.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • A swollen muzzle may indicate a bee sting.
  • Your pet will experience swelling and itching at the site of a bite.
  • The area around a bite will become red and begin to itch. If you notice your pet scratching the same spot repeatedly, make sure you examine the area immediately; this is how most bites are discovered. Do not let your pet continue to scratch the affected area in order to help prevent further damage to the skin.
  • A bee or wasp sting will also cause intense pain at the actual location of the sting. Redness will occur, but the sting site may also become hot to the touch.
  • A spider bite, or multiple stings may include additional symptoms like shivering and vomiting. These signs are more serious and may signal an actual allergic reaction and should be treated by a veterinarian immediately.
  • Stings and bites can cause severe reactions. If there is major swelling, or the animal seems disoriented, sick or has trouble moving or breathing, go to the vet immediately. Some dogs may even go into shock, especially in the case of multiple stings, as their body becomes overwhelmed by the toxins.

Even if your pet seems fine, and the symptoms mild, it is a good idea to watch him carefully for the next 24-hours.

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When a Bite Occurs:

Locate the insect bite - most insect bites will cause redness and swelling, and you may feel a knot or bump beneath the skin where the bite occurred.

Remove stinger - using a pair of tweezers, your fingers or even the corner of a credit card, gently dislodge the stinger from the skin. This may require some help in holding the animal while you remove the stinger, as the area will be tender and your pet will be anxious from the pain.

Apply a cold compress - using ice cubes to relieve discomfort and to help reduce the swelling quickly. Try holding the compress on the insect bite for five minutes or more if your pet will allow it. As the swelling goes down and the cold begins to numb the spot, your pet should begin to relax.

Relieve skin irritation - milk of magnesia works well and will aid in reducing the itching and irritation.

Oatmeal bath - once your pet is calm, it's a good idea to bath your pet with oatmeal shampoo; or add colloidal or regular oatmeal to the bath water by putting some in a sock, tying it to the water spout and letting the water run through it.

Apply a topical treatment - a small amount of ammonia with a cotton ball or swab to the site. You can also use a thin layer of hydrocortisone cream on the wound, which will help to reduce the pain and irritation. You can also apply a thin layer of aloe vera gel (either from a plant or store-bought) to the bite. Aloe vera not only reduces your pet's pain, but speeds up the healing process.

Tips & Warnings:

Apply an insect repellent made especially for pets to your cat or dog to help prevent bites and stings. This will also help keep fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other insects away from your pet.

If your pet gets stung on the face, nose or mouth, swelling may prevent breathing. Watch the swelling closely. Mild swelling is okay. If the swelling quickly becomes large, your pet may be having a serious allergic reaction to the sting or bite and will need to see a veterinarian immediately.

If you know a black widow or brown recluse spider has bitten your pet, see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Although spider bites are not usually fatal, they can still be dangerous and may require more extensive medical treatment than what you can administer at home.

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