Insect bites and stings are not only a nuisance for humans; they can be devastating for your pet this summer.
Insects such as bees, wasps, fleas, ticks, and ants can inflict pain and also transmit dreaded diseases such as heartworm and the deadly Chagas disease. Keeping your pets safe and protected this summer is crucial, experts say.
“Dogs tend to chase bees and wasps, which increases their risk for potentially deadly insect attacks,” Dr. Stacey West, DVM, of the Boca Veterinary Clinic in Florida tells Newsmax Health. “The fur on your pets provides some protection against this pesky problem but it can also conceal bites and stings.”
Experts note that paws, tummies with minimal fur, and mouths are at a greater risk. Here are some do-it-yourself treatments that can help alleviate the pain and possible infection from insect wounds.
“But please, if your pet shows any signs of distress such as trembling, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, extreme facial swelling, hives, or trouble breathing, bring it to your vet or emergency clinic immediately as these can be signs of an anaphylactic reaction,” says West.
1. Bees can sometimes leave their stinger, which may continue to pump venom into the skin. Use a credit card or similar rigid tool to extract it. West notes that if your pet is in pain, he or she may bite so you may be better off letting your vet or vet tech remove the stinger.
2. A cold pack or compress applied to the bite or sting can help reduce swelling. A bag of frozen peas or corn works well and molds against the pet’s body. Always place a protective layer, such as a towel, between the ice pack and your pet’s skin.
3. You may want to apply a hydrocortisone cream to the area, but make sure that your pet cannot lick the medication. Use a cone or inflatable collar to prevent licking.
4. Never use calamine lotion or ammonia-based products on your pet. These can be dangerous, says West. Ammonia products are corrosive to the skin and calamine lotion contains zinc which can be toxic if consumed by dogs and cats.
5. For stings inside the mouth, offer ice cubes or ice water to reduce the swelling. Oral stings may also increase the risk of respiratory problems so make sure your pet is breathing properly by monitoring closely.
6. If your pet exhibits a mild allergic reaction such as facial swelling, ask your vet about giving it Benadryl, an over the counter antihistamine to deal with itching and swelling. Your vet will give you the correct dosage based on your pet’s weight and medical condition. “We would prefer that you bring your pet in for an injectable antihistamine,” says West. “Sometimes we may decide to use a steroid or antibiotic as well to keep the pet safe.”
7. Be on the lookout for an anaphylactic reaction which can be severe in pets. They usually occur within 20 minutes of the sting. This causes a pet’s face, throat and airways to swell making breathing difficult or impossible. Anaphylactic shock requires immediate veterinary treatment or your dog or cat may die.
8. Make sure that your pet is up to date with its flea and tick medication to prevent nuisance bites and possible infestation of your home by these nasty insects. Heartworm protection is also highly recommended. Your veterinarian and recommend the best products for your pet.
“Most insect stings and bites can be easily treated at home,” says West. “However if you have any concerns about your pet’s health following an episode or are uncertain about treating your pet yourself, contact your veterinarian right away.”
© 2022 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.