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Dealing With Insect Bites in Dogs

Insect bites are a common issue that pet owners have to deal with. A dogs’ mischievous nature makes them a likely target. Insect bites can be dangerous and even life threatening to your dog.

Learn the symptoms and first aid dog care so you know what to do in this situation.

Common Insect Bite Symptoms

Symptoms vary widely, and not all dogs’ manifest the same reaction from insect bites. The following is a list of the most common symptoms related to insect bites.

• Swelling around the eyes
• Swelling near the ears
• Swelling on the face and lips
• Diarrhea
• Vomiting
• Difficulty breathing accompanied by wheezing
• Lethargy or weakness
• Itchy hives all over the body
• High pulse rate and body temperature
• Collapse

Insect bites can be life threatening and you should seek immediate veterinary care for your dog if any of the above symptoms are present.

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Treatment and Care

It is very important that you know what to do when dealing with insect bites in dogs. The best thing to do is to call your veterinarian and ask for first aid instructions. Often times, the veterinarian will recommend that you give an antihistamine in the meantime, until you arrive at the clinic. Benadryl is usually given by veterinarians at a dosage of 2-4mg/kg.

You should always consult your veterinarian before administering medication to your pet. You can also place a cold pack on the affected area to temporarily reduce inflammation. Remember that this is only considered initial treatment and that you should take your dog to the nearest veterinary clinic if he/she has been bitten by an insect.

Veterinary Care

What can you expect when taking your dog in to the veterinary clinic for an insect bite? First, you should try to call the veterinary clinic in advance so they have time to prepare for your arrival. This can be lifesaving in more severe cases such as Systemic Anaphylaxis.

Systemic Anaphylaxis occurs when your dogs’ body reacts to the insect bite, causing shock. IV fluids, IV medication, and oxygen will be administered if necessary. In less severe cases, the veterinarian will usually use a corticosteroid, such as injectable Dexamethasone, as a choice of treatment.

In most cases, you can expect your dog to become stable within minutes, but the veterinarian may want you to continue treatment at home for a few days. This is to ensure that the allergic reaction does not reoccur.

Antibiotics may also be prescribed to prevent infection of the affected area. After your dog is stabilized and taken home, you can use regular oatmeal to soothe the skin. Place a sufficient amount of soaked oatmeal on the skin once or twice daily to help reduce irritation.

Dealing with insect bites in dogs is necessary for you to know in order to protect your pet. Stay away from gels or creams, because most dogs tend to lick wounds (especially if the area is painful) and the ingredients in the medication can be toxic to them. Call your veterinarian and follow their instructions carefully. This is the best way you can help your dog. 

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