What to Do with Insect Bites on a Dog

Dr. Monica Sterk

Oct 12, 2020

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Do you think your dog may have been bitten or stung by an insect? Does he have all the telltale signs of this problem, or is something wrong with him that you just can’t quite place? Do you want to know how to help your dog’s insect bite at home and when to see a vet?

If any of this sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explain how to tell if your dog is suffering from an insect bite, what to do at home, and when it’s time to schedule a vet visit for your furry friend.

How to Tell Your Dog Has an Insect Bite

There are a few ways to tell if your dog has been bitten or stung by an insect.

Visible Signs

The most obvious is simply by looking; you may be able to see visible signs of your dog’s bite or sting just like you would on a human’s skin.

Some visible signs of an insect bite on a dog include:

  • Redness around the area that was bitten
  • Swelling
  • Skin that is hot to the touch

Excessive Itching

Your dog may be very itchy and may have hives if he’s allergic to the insect bite.

Vocal Sounds

Another sign that could indicate that your dog has an insect bite is that he may howl, whine, or otherwise make vocal sounds to let you know something is wrong.

Learn to recognize the signs of an insect bite on a dog so you can tell when it has occurred.

How to Treat Insect Bites on a Dog at Home

The information in this section can help you determine what to do now that you’ve figure out your dog has an insect bite. Follow these steps and treat your dog’s bite, but remember to always pay attention to his behavior and symptoms.

If you notice him having trouble breathing, collapsing, having seizures, vomiting, or having diarrhea, these are signs of anaphylactic shock and require immediate vet care.

Steps for Treating Insect Bites on Dogs

Some insect bites have the potential to heal on their own without any treatment. However, you can help them heal faster and keep your dog comfortable at the same time by following these guidelines.

Below are some important steps for caring for an insect bite on a dog:

Check for a Stinger in the Wound

If you find a stinger in your dog’s bite wound, then it will have to be removed.

Don’t use tweezers, as this can eject more venom into your dog’s body. Instead, use something thin and stiff like a credit card to work the stinger to the surface of the skin and then pull it out by hand very gently.

Use a Cold Compress to Help with Swelling

If the sting or bite is swelling at the site, use a cold compress made of cold water or an ice pack to help soothe your dog.

Apply Paste of Baking Soda and Water to the Wound

Make a paste of baking soda with a little water and apply it to the sting or bite, just like you might apply ointment to a bite on a human’s skin.

Do not use over-the-counter human ointments unless specifically told to do so by your vet. Hydrocortisone may be safe for dogs, but it isn’t safe for every dog.

Call your vet if you want to find out whether or not your dog can use this type of cream for their insect bite.

Give Your Dog an Oatmeal Bath

Try giving your dog an oatmeal bath if there are multiple bites or stings. As long as baths don’t over-stress your dog, this can be soothing and help heal the bites at the same time.

Apply Aloe Vera Gel to the Bite

Dogs can safely use aloe vera gel. Apply a light coating of the gel to the site of the bite but make sure your dog doesn’t lick it off until it has a chance to soak into the skin. Otherwise, it simply won’t help the problem.

If Safe, Give Your Dog Benadryl

Some dogs may be able to take over-the-counter human Benadryl. As with hydrocortisone cream, however, not all dogs can safely use this medication.

Call your vet and ask whether or not it’s safe for your specific dog to use Benadryl for an insect bite, and if so, how much to give.

When to Go to the Vet for Insect Bites on Dogs

Use your best judgment in any insect bite situation. If your dog is in need of immediate vet care and it’s after-hours at your usual vet, you will need to find an emergency vet to treat him.

Below are some of the most important times to go to the vet for an insect bite on a dog:

If this is Your Dog’s First Insect Bite

Go to the vet if this is the first time your dog has ever been bitten or stung by an insect. Since you don’t know how your dog may react, it’s important to have a vet check him out for signs of distress or other problems.

If Your Dog Shows Signs of Anaphylaxis

Go to the vet if your dog is showing any classic symptoms of anaphylaxis.

The symptoms of anaphylaxis in dogs include:

  • Weakness
  • Collapsing
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Panting
  • Wheezing
  • Labored breathing
  • Other signs of respiratory distress

These signs usually occur within ten minutes of an insect bite or sting and are often accompanied by other less severe symptoms as well.

If Your Dog Has a History of Anaphylaxis

If your dog has suffered an anaphylactic reaction to any bite, sting, or other irritant before, be sure to go to the vet right away if he has been bitten or stung. He may have the same reaction, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If Your Dog’s Bitten by a Dangerous Spider

If you think your dog’s insect bite came from a dangerous spider, then they will need medical treatment.

Some spider bites are very dangerous to dogs, so it’s important to have your vet check your dog out and administer any of the appropriate treatments required to deal with a spider bite.

Get Help for Insect Bites on a Dog

Some insect bites can be harmless, but it’s important to pay attention to your dog and be sure he’s healing and recovering as he should. If you ever have any doubt about the kind of insect bite your dog got or don’t know what to do next, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible.

At VEG, our veterinarians are here and ready to help for any insect bite on a dog situation. When you call one of our convenient locations, you will speak directly to an experienced emergency vet who will help guide you on the next steps to take when to care for your dog’s insect bite.