Bugs are everywhere, all the time—at least that’s how it can feel in the summer. Though dogs can usually go about their everyday life interacting with various bugs without any issues, it’s possible that one day your pup may get bit or stung by one.
Part of being a dog parent is learning how to treat bug bites on dogs, recognizing the common symptoms, and knowing when to take your pal to the veterinarian for further care. Since most of our canine friends enjoy spending a majority of their days in the great outdoors, it’s only a matter of time before they have a run-in with bees, ants, spiders, centipedes, or any number of other insects and critters. Plus, depending on the region in which you live, your dog may even have a run-in with these bugs indoors.
Some common questions dog parents have concerning bugs include:
Yes, dogs can be allergic to bug bites. In the instance that they are, their reactions can become severe and require a visit to their veterinarian for medical treatment.
Stink bugs are not poisonous to dogs, but because they have unpleasant secretions that help protect them from predators, your dog may find that eating them is incredibly unpleasant. After eating or even licking a stink bug, your dog may vomit or begin drooling excessively. These bugs can also cause some slight aggravation to your dog’s lips, tongue, or gums. Any side effects are temporary and should disappear in less than a day.
Yes, bed bugs can bite dogs. However, bed bugs typically do not like dealing with thick fur and prefer exposed skin, so your thick-coated dog may not be a likely candidate for bed bugs. That said, just as bed bugs can reside in a human’s bed, they can also live in or around your dog’s bed.
If your dog is consistently interacting with bugs inside your home, it’s recommended that you seek bug treatment options. Depending on the bug, some prevention methods can easily be bought at your local store, and you can spray your home in just a few minutes. For more severe issues, you may need to call in pest control.
No matter the type of insecticide or treatment you are using around your property or home, it’s crucial that you check if the product is okay to have around your dog. Some recommend that your pet not enter the area until the product has dried, while others recommend keeping your pet out of the treated area for hours.
Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, mites, roundworms, and giardia are all parasites that can affect your dog. Not only can these each cause bothersome, itchy spots on your pup, but they can also pass along some serious diseases.
No matter how much time they spend indoors or outdoors or in which region you live, all dogs should receive parasite prevention for fleas, ticks, and heartworm. Veterinarians can prescribe these in the form of topical medicine, collars, or chewable tablets.
If you’ve never had issues with these bugs, you may be tempted to skip a month whenever it’s colder outside. However, keep in mind that taking just this simple preventive measure is far less costly than the alternative of your pet contracting one of these unwelcome pests.
The U.S. is home to thousands of species of spiders. With so many arachnids, it’s not too unusual for your dog to experience a spider bite at least once. Thankfully, most spider bites have minor symptoms, such as reddened or itchy skin, and these often disappear on their own in a short amount of time.
With many people fearing spiders, particularly the poisonous ones, dog parents can’t help but wonder, “Are spiders poisonous to dogs?” Out of the thousands of spiders in the U.S., two of the most prevalent of several poisonous arachnids that dog parents should keep a careful eye out for include black widows and the brown recluse.
These two spiders, which are also poisonous to people, can be found in the south and parts of the Midwest. It is possible for your four-legged friend to get bit by one of these spiders and have minimal reactions. This can vary based on your dog’s size and how much venom the spider releases.
When it comes to dogs and spider bites, symptoms to look out for from the black widow and brown recluse include:
Many spider bites initially show the sign of a reddened, swollen, or raised area on the skin. Some may even have a ‘target’ appearance. With that in mind, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the bite area and monitor your dog’s condition. In some cases, you may notice more discoloration or darkening of the skin where your pup was bit.
If you believe that your dog was bit by a spider, it is best to contact your veterinarian. They may ask you to identify the spider (if you saw it) and describe your dog’s current symptoms. They can also give you advice on what to look for and when it will become necessary to bring your pup in for an examination.
Even if your dog wasn’t bit by a black widow or brown recluse, spider bites, in general, can become very itchy, and if the wound is scratched open, it could become infected. In this instance, your veterinarian may prescribe some anti-itch medicine or an antihistamine. It is generally not recommended to put ice on a spider bite.
In more extreme cases, such as a bad black widow bite, your dog will need to receive the antivenom, or there could be serious consequences. Depending on your dog’s condition, your veterinarian may also recommend that they spend the night at an animal hospital to be monitored closely.
One of the best ways to limit your dog’s interaction with spiders is to treat your home or property regularly.
Ants can be tricky to avoid—they are tiny and seem to be everywhere. Plus, there are many different types, including fire, carpenter, black garden, and red wood ants, among many others.
Dogs and fire ant bites, in particular, are the most common. Fire ants, which are most often found throughout the southeastern and western regions of the United States, are known as a more aggressive species and are more likely to attack and sting when disturbed.
Between your dog spending a lot of time outside in the yard and going on walks and hikes, it’s not uncommon for them to get bit or stung by an ant. The first signs you will want to look out for include any red, swollen areas on the skin. You may also notice your pal excessively scratching themselves or showing signs of pain near where they were bitten.
If the bite or sting occurs on one of their limbs, you may begin to notice limping or your pup raising one paw into the air while walking. In the instance that the ant would bite your dog near their mouth, drooling and swelling of the muzzle are common symptoms. Unfortunately, since most dogs either step on an anthill or run their nose up to one, bites around the mouth, nose, and feet are relatively common.
In some mild cases, dogs may show very little to no symptoms. The area where they were bit may be uncomfortable for a short amount of time, but within just a day or two, all will be back to normal. Your pup could experience noticeable facial swelling and difficulty breathing in more extreme cases. Dogs with underlying health problems or those smaller in size can be more likely to experience more prominent reactions.
If your dog has a run-in with these minuscule but mighty insects, you will first want to remove them from where the ants are located. Once safely away, remove any additional ants by hand—if available, put on gloves to protect yourself from bites. For long-haired dogs, using a brush or comb to work through the coat may help in ensuring that all ants are removed. Particularly in the case of fire ants, do not use a water hose to spray off the ants, as this may just cause them to hold on tighter.
Since many ant bites go away in a short time on their own, treatment may be minimal. However, it never hurts to call your veterinarian to double-check what you should do and what symptoms you should keep an eye out for. They may additionally recommend that you use a cold compress on the bite to help reduce swelling, or they may prescribe an antihistamine. Topical ointments, creams, and sprays are not the best solution for ant bites, as your dog could lick them off and ingest the medicine.
One of the best ways to avoid your dog interacting with ants is to watch for anthills. In your backyard, check the space out from time to time, removing any anthills and treating the area to prevent further infestation.
By spending time outside, your dog will most likely have interactions with bees, but bee stings in dogs are not an overly common problem. However, as a concerned pet parent, you most likely still can’t help but wonder what to do if your dog gets stung by a bee.
First, when it comes to bee stings, there’s a good chance you won’t even notice when your pup gets stung, especially because in milder cases, dogs can show minimal, if any, signs. For other pups, common symptoms can include a reddened, itchy, swollen, or sensitive spot. In more severe cases, your dog could experience lethargy, nausea, difficulty breathing, and extreme swelling. Like people, some dogs can have allergic reactions to a bee sting.
Where your dog gets stung (mouth versus limbs) could influence their reactions. Stings around the muzzle area typically result in worse reactions and a swollen nose. It’s additionally important to note that bees can only sting once. Though their stinger is barbed, so it may stay in your dog’s skin. A wasp or hornet does not have a barbed stinger, but they can sting more than once and have a more powerful sting.
How long does a bee sting last on a dog? In most cases, only a few days. Keep an eye on where they got stung to make sure it looks okay, but otherwise, there’s no need to rest your dog. They’ll get back to being completely fine before you know it. If your dog’s symptoms do not improve after a couple of days or you notice their condition worsening, it’s crucial that you take them to their veterinarian.
Although it’s impossible to cut off your dog’s interactions with bees completely, there are a few steps you can take to keep your four-legged friend as safe as possible. First, discourage them from snapping or biting at bees whenever they fly around. This may sound easier said than done, but it’s a step closer to keeping your pal sting-free. You can also encourage your dog to keep their nose out of holes in the ground, as this is where some bees build their homes.
If you are a homeowner, keep an eye out for any beehives being built in your yard or around your property. Depending on its location, you may be able to temporarily rope off the area, allowing the bees and your dog to keep a safe difference. While this isn’t always a solution, rehoming the bees may be a better option (especially if they are honey bees). Be sure to call a beekeeper to help with this process. This can keep you and your dog sting-free while ensuring that the bees are safely rehomed—bees are essential to the environment, after all.
Understanding the common bugs in your region can help you better prepare for and prevent issues for your dog. Not to mention, the prevalence of certain bug species can even alter quite a bit from one season to another.
Even though not all bugs are poisonous to dogs , it’s still best to try and discourage your pup from ingesting too many. Some pups may make a game out of it, and eating too many of certain bugs may start causing internal issues. Thankfully, some dogs learn their lesson quickly.
Take my family’s oh-so-curious pup that often thinks with his stomach and not his head. Upon discovering a stink bug for the first time, he decided to lick it. With instant regret, he spent the next few minutes running around the yard, rubbing his face in the grass, and drooling all over the place. Ever since, he has left stink bugs alone—lesson learned.
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.
title: Dogs and Bug Bites
author: Emily W.