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Insect Bite In Dogs – Treatment & Prevention

Insect Bite In Dogs

Unfortunately, the most annoying problem faced by pet owners is insect bites. The bites of fire ants, spiders, and scorpions as well as stings of yellow jackets, wasps, bees, and hornets, all spell trouble for an inquisitive dog. Insect bites cause problems ranging from mild pain, and irritation to serious medical issues.

The top stinging insects that cause problems to pets consist of three groups: Vespidae (yellow jackets, wasps, hornets), Formicidae (i.e. fire ant, carpenter ant), and Apidae (i.e. bumblebees, honeybees, African killer bees). With respect to stings on pets, Vespidae species tend to be more aggressive than Apids.

Unlike Apids (bees) which can sting only once, Vespids are capable of stinging a victim multiple times since their stinger is smooth (not barbed) and can be withdrawn from the victim. Apids have a barbed stinger that remains in the victim and the lodged stinger can still pump venom into the victim. In either case, timely treatment is significant for alleviating complications and relieving symptoms.

Symptoms Of Insect Bite

Local reactions:

  • Sudden onset of pain e.g. Whining, limping, yelping.
  • Redness and Swelling
  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Itching and soreness
  • Licking, scratching, chewing, and pawing at the bite or sting site.

Regional reactions:

  • Cellulitis (swelling and inflammation under the skin)
  • Allergic response involving other parts of the body arising from the sting site
  • Depression
  • Bruising due to inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing

Anaphylactic responses:

  • Hives (‘welts’ or ‘urticaria’) or multiple red, raised swellings over the body
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnoea)
  • Lethargic/ muscle weakness
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Breathing troubles/Respiratory arrest
  • Seizures
  • Hypersalivation
  • Incoordination
  • Collapse

Delayed allergic reactions:

  • Generalized pruritus
  • Arthritis (stiff joints)
  • Discolored urine (from the damage to red blood cells/muscle)

Treatment Options For Insect Bite

  • Quickly consider the possibility that your dog was bitten or stung by the signs.
  • Identify the insect: Quickly investigate the area for flying insects or for creepy crawlies.
  • Allergic reactions: Injectable antihistamines or oral anti-histamine, such as diphenhydramine (brand names: Benadryl, Vetadryl)
  • Maintain hydration and food intake.
  • Injectable anti-inflammatory medications
  • injectable adrenaline (In severe cases)
  • Oxygen therapy- pets having difficulty breathing or is in shock.
  • Intravenous fluid therapy and medications
  • Other supportive medications e.g. decongestants, pain relievers, antacids (to reduce stomach ulcers), and Antiitch creams and lotions.

Home Remedies For Insect Bite

First aid can be of first response; however, it is not a substitute for professional vet help

Things to remember:

  • Try to locate the stinger in the wound- Don’t use tweezers. Instead, scrape it away using thin and stiff like a credit card or fingernails.
  • Remove Fleas- use special flea combs
  • Ticks- fine-tipped tweezers
  • Use a cold pack or compress to reduce the swelling
  • Baking soda and water paste to the wounds in exposed areas (don’t use it in messy fur)
  • Frozen peas, corn, or bag of frozen vegetables works well
  • Hydrocortisone or Aloe vera gel, or calamine lotion may be safe for dogs to reduce itching and inflammation
  • Give your dog an oatmeal bath
  • Check with your vet and give your dog Benadryl (one milligram per pound/every 8 hrs)

Prevention Of Insect Bite

Try to avoid Insect bites on your dogs because many reactions deteriorate with frequent exposure to the aberrant proteins or toxins.

If your pet has ever experienced an insect bite reaction, take note of it to inform your vet, so that preventive measures can be taken.

Insect bite hypersensitive pets are also hypersensitive to tick and flea bites, molds, pollens, and many foods.

Gather information on pet products that are effective for preventing insect bites.

Don’t forget to keep your dog away from the nests of stinging insects such as wasps, hornets, and beehives.

Seek professional help to properly relocate a nest or a hive from your property so you can keep pets and kids safe.

Reduce the risk of stings and bites by hiring an exterminator to treat your yard with safe insecticides

Training: Train your dog to stop the innocuous habit of catching or eating insects. Every time he hunts insects, discourage the act and teaches other tricks like the usage of sounds like “ppffui”. Besides, avoid teaching your dog to grab treats out of the air.

Affected Breeds Of Insect Bite

There is no breed disposition

Additional Facts For Insect Bite

What are the top insect bites in dogs?

  1. Fleas
  2. Ticks
  3. Bees, hornets, wasps
  4. Blackflies, horse flies, deer flies, sand flies
  5. Fire ants, pharaoh ants


Prognosis is excellent for bites with localized reactions. With appropriate therapy, most clinical signs resolve within a day or two. Prognosis is ‘not that bad’ with more severe reactions, as long as prompt medical care is provided. A more guarded prognosis is for cases that involve multiple bee stings.

When To See A Vet

Use your common sense in any insect bite situation.

Contact your vet right away,

  • If you are unable to identify the stinging source and the dog shows extreme discomfort
  • If your dog shows anaphylactic signs after the bite
  • If it is a puppy or a dog with a history of anaphylaxis
  • If your dog’s bitten by dangerous arachnids such as scorpions, spiders, etc

Food Suggestions For Insect Bite

  • Lean boiled meats
  • Chicken baby food
  • Plain steamed or baked white fish (whiting, pollock, cod, haddock, etc)
  • Mashed potato (softened with fish poaching liquor)
  • Skinless, minced chicken or turkey
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Fiber-rich foods: Apples, pears, oatmeal, and other foods
  • Rice, sweet potato, mashed banana


Not every insect bites are harmful, however it is better to err on the side of caution. Pay attention to your dog and make sure he’s feeling good and recuperating as he should. When you don’t know what to do next after an insect bite or ever have any doubt about the kind of insect bite your dog got, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian immediately.

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