The best methods for treating bug bites on dogs

November 3, 2015

We want our dogs to live long, healthy lives full of affection and fun. When they suffer, we do too, and it quickly becomes a priority to help them. If your furry friend has been bitten by bugs, here’s how to treat them.

The best methods for treating bug bites on dogs

Identify bites

The first thing to do is determine what kind of bug is responsible.

  • Most bites and stings can be treated at home unless further symptoms develop.
  • If your dog shows signs of venom hypersensitivity like drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, face scratching, collapse, seizures or a high level of agitation, go to the nearest vet immediately. Bites from black widow or brown recluse spiders, for example, can be deadly.

Treat bites

For most bite wounds, a paste of baking soda and water can bring relief, and an ice pack can ease pain and swelling. Your veterinarian might prescribe an antihistamine as well.

  • Use petting and calming words to ease your dog's anxiety when applying any treatment and give your pal a nice treat when it's all done.

Remember that if the dog is showing any signs of a strong reaction, go right to the vet.

Deal with venom sacs and stingers

If you see a venom sac or stinger left behind by a bee, resist the temptation to pull it out with tweezers. Anything that squeezes the sac can put more venom into your dog.

  • Scrape away the venom sac or stinger with a fingernail or credit card.

Check for ticks

Tick-borne Lyme disease is on the rise in Canada in humans as well as pets. That’s why vaccinating your dog against it is important, even if he or she rarely goes outside.

Using a tick repellent is a great idea, but don’t forget to do physical checks as well. Ticks actually stick around after they bite. You’ll find them hiding in ears or other nooks and crannies.

  • Run your fingers over your dog's body, checking for bumps or swollen areas. Be sure to check ears, toes, armpits and around their face as well.

Remove ticks

If you spot ticks on your dog, follow these steps to remove them.

  • Use tweezers or a tick removal kit, and wear gloves.
  • With tweezers, grasp firmly, but avoid pinching the skin.
  • Pull away steadily, making sure to get all the tick out.
  • Treat the area with antiseptic cream or ointment and observe it for a few days.

It's a good idea to keep the tick in isopropyl alcohol for a few days in case the dog develops symptoms of illness. A vet can test the tick to determine if it carried any diseases.

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