The stings of bees, wasps, and yellow jackets, and the bites of ants all cause painful swelling and redness at the site of the sting, usually on a hairless area such as the nose or feet. The swelling may include the face and neck, even if the dog was not stung on the face. If the dog is stung many times, he could go into shock as a result of absorbed toxins. Occasionally, anaphylactic shock develops in a dog who has been stung in the past. The bites of black widow and brown recluse spiders are toxic to animals. The first sign is sharp pain at the site of the bite. Later the dog develops intense excitability, fever, weakness, and muscle and joint pains. Seizures, shock, and death can occur, especially with the bite of the black widow spider. An antivenin is available to treat these bites. The stings of centipedes and scorpions cause a local reaction and, at times, severe illness. These bites heal slowly. The bites of fleas, ticks, and other common insect parasites are discussed elsewhere.
- Identify the insect.
- If the stinger is found (a small black sac), remove it by scraping it out with your fingernail or a credit card. Do not squeeze or use tweezers, as this can inject more venom. (Only bees leave their stingers behind.)
- Apply an ice pack to relieve the pain and swelling.
- Apply calamine lotion to relieve the itching.
- Your veterinarian may prescribe an antihistamine.
If the dog exhibits signs of hypersensitivity to the venom (agitation, face scratching, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, or seizures), take him at once to the nearest veterinary facility for treatment of anaphylactic shock. If your dog has a severe reaction to a bee sting, you should consult your veterinarian about keeping an Epi Pen kit available (the Epi Pen is a prepackaged injection of epinephrine used to counteract an anaphylactic reaction) and discuss the proper dose for your dog.