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What to Do if Your Dog Gets Stung By…

 by jaime on 16 Jul 2014 |
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It's impossible to keep an eye on your dog all the time, so there may be instances in your pooch's life where they come into contact with some nasty critters. Different climates, locations and seasons will impact what possible creatures your dog may have a run in with, so it's important to be aware, remain dilligent and know how to treat various stings or wounds that may be inflicted upon your pet.

Spiders

Black Widow Spider
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Spiders can be harmful to your pets and what makes matters worse is that it's not easy to detect a spider bite straight up. Many spiders are not capable of biting through your dog's thick skin, but the black widow, red back, brown widow and brown recluse are types of spiders that can be very harmful to your dog, so if you live in a region where these spiders are known to inhabit, it's a good idea to start learning how to identify them.

Signs and symptoms
The type of spider and how many times your dog has been bitten will determine what signs and symptoms your dog may display and experience. These include:
  • Inflammation (redness, swelling) in areas that have less hair; paws, eyelids, joints, earflaps, mouth, nose, stomach.
  • Abnormal lesions
  • Breathlessness
  • Fur loss
  • Fever and joint pain
  • Restless and distressed
  • Licking the infected area - you may even see the puncture marks.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea may occur.
  • Increased anxiousness or excitement.
  • Rigid muscles
  • Vocalising loudly
  • Lack of coordination
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures

How to help
If you suspect your dog has been bitten by a spider, take them to your vet as soon as you can so they can receive the appropriate anti-venom medication.

Snakes

 

Copperhead Snake
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Snakes are more of a problem during the summer months and unfortunately dogs can easily become victim of a snake bite after becoming a little too curious about their new pal slithering around. Snake bites have varying levels of severity depending on the type of snake, how much venom there was and where the snake bit. The beginning of summer is when snake bites are at their most dangerous because the venom glands are much fuller.

Signs and symptoms
Most dogs can recover from a snake bite within 48 hours, however it all comes down to identifying it (the bite) and getting help as soon as possible. Again, there are a number of variables when it comes to knowing whether or not your dog has been bitten by a snake. Most common signs and symptoms include:
  • Weakness and/or collapse
  • Shaking or twitching of muscles
  • Difficulty blinking
  • Dilated pupils that are not responsive to light.
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in urine
  • Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
  • And at later stages, paralysis

How to help
Preventing a snake bite is the most ideal situation. Be aware of what snakes are common to your local area and know how to identify them. As mentioned, snakes are most active during summer so when out walking your dog, keep them on a lead, especially near bushland or long grass. At home, keep your grass short and make sure the area is clear of any piles of rubbish and any potential hiding places like wood piles or sheets of materials.

However, if your dog has indeed been bitten by a snake follow this method to help ease the situation:
  • Keep yourself and your pet calm. Stress and anxiety can make venom move through your dog's system more quickly.
  • Get to the vet immediately. If you live a fair distance from your vet, apply a pressure bandage around the bite to help slow the spread of poison. DON'T wash the wound or apply a tourniquet.  
  • If you are able to identify the snake make sure you tell the vet so they can administer the correct anti-venom. DON'T ever try to kill the snake, but if it's already dead, bring it with you to the vets.

Bees/Wasps

 

Honeybee
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Unlike spiders and snakes, bee and wasp stings are generally less harmful - although if your dog suffers from multiple stings or a bad allergic reaction then the results can be dangerous. Commonly, dogs will get stung on their face or nose which can be very painful for them - although it is possible for them to be stung elsewhere including on their tongue and inside their mouth.

Signs and symptoms
  • General weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A large amount of swelling extending away from the sting site.
  • Severe reactions can include vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Severe reactions can cause pale gums.

How to help
Prevention is always best. Keep outdoor areas clean and free of rubbish or food scraps, particularly if you've been eating or entertaining outside, and keep flowers to a minimum.

At this point there is one distinction between bees and wasps. Bees usually have a 'barbed' stinger which loges itself into the skin of your dog - the bee can therefore only sting once and dies soon after. Wasps have a clean stinger so are more capable of multiple stings which is worse for your dog.
  • Keep some antihistamines on you at all times in a doggy first-aid kit which can come in handy to alleviate some symptoms of allergic reactions. Make sure to seek advice from your vet beforehand about brands and dosage.
  • If possible, try to remove the stinger. Never squeeze or use tweezers to remove the stinger as that can allow more poison to enter your dog's body. Use a flicking motion with your nail or edge of a credit card.
  • Wash the wound using a mild soap.
  • Apply an ice pack to reduce the swelling for around 10-30 minutes a few times a day.
  • Make a thick paste using baking soda and water to apply to the stung area.
  • Observe your dog closely for the next 24 hours for any severe symptoms or reactions.
If your dog has been stung multiple times, or believe they are having a bad allergic reaction, head to the vet immediately so they can be seen to.

Jellyfish

 

Box Jellyfish
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Depending on where in the world you live and if you spend time with your dog at the beach, jellyfish could be a real hazard for your four legged friend (and you too). Jellyfish are translucent sea dwellers who quite often end up close to shore and if you end up in their path, could suffer a nasty sting and depending on the species, the consequences can be deadly.

Signs and symptoms
There are many different species of jellyfish and the impact of their sting varies, so with that, so does the signs and symptoms your dog may display and experience. The best thing you can do is research what jellyfish inhabit your local area and find out what distinct signs and symptoms they may cause. However, there are some common signs and symptoms you can look out for. These include:
  • Itchy rash with burning sensation.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Shock
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart and respiratory problems
  • And depending on the type of jellyfish, death.

How to help
As always, prevention and protection is the best way to allow your furry friend to enjoy the water and avoid those nasty tentacles. The tentacle of a jellyfish is covered with what is called nematocysts or stinging cells which stick to surfaces and wrap around objects. These stinging cells secrete poisonous toxins. Fortunately your dog is at less risk than you are because they are covered by fur which makes it harder for the tentacles to stick - however you will need to protect your dog's footpads, abdomen, nose, testicles and eye lids to stop any nasty poison from penetrating. You can do this by spreading petroleum jelly onto those vulnerable areas before hitting the beach.

However, if your dog has been stung the following tips should help ease symptoms:
  • Soak or rinse the affected area for 15-30 minutes in vinegar. If you don't have vinegar, sea water or 70% alcohol will also work. This stops the tentacles releasing toxins.
  • Use gloves, a shell, stick or tweezers to remove tentacles - but never with your bare hands.
  • If possible, make a paste with baking soda or shaving cream and apply it to the area - this helps remove any stubborn tentacles.
  • You can then use a razor or credit card to remove those stubborn tentacles, but then reapply more baking soda paste or shaving cream.
  • If your dog has been stung in the eye use a saline solution to rinse the area. Similarly, soak a towel in vinegar and dap the area, but never put vinegar directly into the eye.
  • If your dog has been stung inside the mouth irrigate the area using a medicine syringe and by making a vinegar solution using 1/4 cup vinegar to 3/4 of water.
  • Keep you pet calm and as still as possible and take them to the vet ASAP.
  • Never use fresh water.
  • Never rub the area.
Note: if your dog has been stung by a bluebottle/Portugese Man O War NEVER use vinegar - use hot water followed by ice.
 
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