Modified: December 2, 2022

Dog Bug Bites: How to Treat Them and What to Look out For

For the most part, bug bites do not bother humans as much as they do dogs. Although most bug bites on dogs are itchy nuisances causing discomfort, they can be life-threatening on rare occasions, which is why it is crucial to know how to identify bug bites on your pet and any allergic reactions from it before treating dog bug bites.

Let’s go over our “Dog bug bites: how to treat them and what to look out for” guide with Ehline Law and our dog bite personal injury attorneys.

Common Insect Bites on Your Pet Dog

As a pet owner, you are responsible for looking after your pet’s health, including identifying, preventing, and treating health concerns. A bug bite can cause serious irritation and discomfort to your pup, which is why it is essential to know about common insect bites before you can treat bug bites.

Most insect bites are manageable, while some can cause serious allergic reactions, so let’s go over some common bug bites that may be causing irritation and discomfort to your pet dog.

Mosquito Bites

The penetration point on mosquito bites can be difficult to see since the needles are tiny, but you can determine if it is a mosquito bite if your dog is constantly scratching themselves, a sign for you to inspect further. With more painful bites, your dog may start to chew or lick the affected area.

Run your fingers over the affected area to identify mosquito bites and look for irregularly shaped bumps. These insect bites can lead to your pup’s heartworm disease, a severe and potentially fatal disease. If your dog is already taking preventive medications, you don’t need to worry, but if they are on medicine 30 days after the illness, you need to take them to the vet.

Flea Bites

Although flea bites on dogs can happen all year round, fleas are very aggressive during hot seasons, and black specs (flea dirt) around the red spots are a giveaway that your pup suffers from a flea bite. To diagnose flea bites, carefully examine your dog’s skin for clusters of tiny red bumps, usually around the paws, belly, and between skin folds.

Your furry friend can suffer from flea allergy dermatitis and even develop tapeworms if the pet swallows a flea infected by one, but don’t worry, as tapeworms are not dangerous to dogs, and a vet can prescribe medication to help.

When a dog suffers from a flea allergy, the chewing and scratching become intense, but it may not always be a sign of flea bites. If your dog has small red bumps during winters and no one in your family suffers from a flea allergy, it may be a mite infestation.

Tick Bites

A tick bite is another bug bite you should look out for, as these look similar to a mosquito bite, making it extremely difficult to identify tick bites on dogs unless the bugs are already latched onto the animal.

Ticks cannot survive below-freezing temperatures, which means they’re active all year round in most parts of the world.

Using a pair of fine-point tweezers, grasp onto the pesky bugs and lift gently until the tick lets go. Avoid using blunt tweezers as they can tear the tick’s mouth while leaving part of the body inside the skin.

Tick bug bites on dogs can spread bacteria causing Lyme disease, traveling through the body and localizing in joints or kidneys. Diagnosing Lyme disease in pets is difficult as most animals do not develop a characteristic bull’s-eye rash visible in humans suffering from the same condition. Only 20% of the animals affected by Lyme disease develop a circular rash within 3 to 20 days of being bitten.

Because of their effectiveness, the Snap 4Dx and QC6 treatment methods have replaced traditional blood tests. It is important to remember that many dogs testing positive may not require treatment if they have sufficient levels of C6 antibodies.

Spider Bites

Most spider bites on dogs are not life-threatening, causing mild swelling and tenderness; however, two species of spiders can severely harm pups, including Loxosceles (brown recluse spider) and Latrodectus (black widow spider).

A black widow and brown recluse spider bite can cause symptoms within the first few hours. Your puppy will go through intense pain and will have lesions around the bite, which is a sign of poisoning. The symptoms will start to get worse gradually, and your pup may experience seizures, paralysis, and fever, among other symptoms.

If you discover that your pet has lesions around the bite wound and displays the symptoms mentioned above, immediately take your pet to the vet. You won’t always spot the black lesions from a venomous spider bite, so monitoring symptoms is your best bet for diagnosis.

Hornet and Bee Stings

Bees, hornets, and wasps will react immediately by stinging if they feel threatened. A hornet, bee, or wasp can sting your pet if your dog accidentally disturbs them. 

If your dog is suffering from insect stings, there is a chance that the stinger might still be in them, which is why you need to locate the stinger and take it out by scraping a credit card over the skin until it pops out. Avoid using tweezers as they can squeeze more venom from the bee sting into your pet.

Ant Bites

Ant bites are usually not a concern unless it’s a fire or bullet ant, as these species can deliver a nasty bite. Dogs typically come into contact with ants when they’re playing around outside, and they may unintentionally step on an ant colony, diverting their attention toward them.

Small red bumps are an indication of many ant bites. However, fire ant bites can leave pus-filled blisters. Make sure you examine the rest of the body as ants can cling onto your pet and roam around in fur.

Fly Bites

Some of the most aggressive fly bites come from flies found around farms, including black flies and horseflies. Dog owners can quickly scan their pets for fly bites by looking for red splotches on the animal’s underside.

Emergencies: When Should You Take Your Pet to a Vet?

Since dogs cannot communicate like humans, it can be difficult to tell what your pet is experiencing, especially if it is your first time seeing your dog sick. After getting bit by an insect, your dog may have an allergic reaction. 

The good news is that only 2 of these allergic reactions are dangerous to pups.

Types of Allergic Reactions

There are four types of allergic reaction a dog may have toward insect bites, and these include:

  • Anaphylactic: After a deadly bite, a dog may undergo anaphylactic shock, where the blood pressure drops suddenly, causing breathing problems. There is no treatment for anaphylactic reactions, and symptoms can deteriorate within 20 minutes of the bite.
  • Edema: A dog may experience significant swelling in their face or throat. Edema allergic reaction is treatable and is only dangerous if the swelling blocks the animal’s breathing passage.
  • Hives: Extremely annoying; hives can cause itching but are not dangerous to the animal.
  • Allergic dermatitis: It is a skin condition where the dog will start to experience itchy or flaky skin.

Not all bites are dangerous to your furry friend but if you believe that your dog’s insect bite came from a spider, contact a vet immediately.

Signs of an Anaphylactic Reaction Following an Insect Bite

An anaphylactic/anaphylaxis reaction is a severe life-threatening emergency affecting the animal’s vital organs. It can cause seizures after restricting blood flow and affect your pup’s breathing ability.

If your dog is experiencing reaction symptoms of the bite, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, hives, seizures, or excessive drooling, take them to a vet immediately.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Having Difficulty Breathing?

Although edema or hives reactions are much less severe than anaphylactic reactions, these can become life-threatening if the swelling constricts the animal’s airway. 

If your pet has difficulty breathing, it may experience breathing through the mouth, panting, flaring nostrils, labored breathing, diarrhea, or noisy breathing.

How to Treat Insect Bites on Dogs

Many pup owners give their pets Benadryl, an antihistamine medication used to treat allergies. Although the drug is effective against mild allergies, depending on your dog’s health, it can worsen matters, so it’s best to refer to a vet before giving your dog Benadryl.

Here are some of the ways you can treat insect bites on dogs.

Check for Stinger

Start treating insect bites by checking for any stingers. Don’t pull them out using a tweezer; instead, as mentioned previously, use a credit card to push them out of the body carefully.

Use an Ice Pack

Stings and bites can swell up quickly, so use an ice pack over the affected area to keep the swelling down and provide your pet some comfort.

Apply Baking Soda

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using baking soda as a natural way to reduce itchiness, so mix baking soda with water until it forms a paste-like consistency, and apply it generously over your dog’s bites, just like an ointment.

Avoid using human ointments, as they can be dangerous for some dogs. Before using any cream, call your vet and discuss it with them.

Give Oatmeal Bath

As long as your dog does not overly stress during bath times, oatmeal baths can be very soothing and help your pup relax, especially if your pet has considerably bite wounds or stings.

Apply Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera gel is a natural remedy for insect bites because of its antiseptic properties, so apply the gel over the bite marks, letting it soak into the skin. Ensure your pup does not lick the gel, which won’t help the problem.

If You’re Not Sure, Head to a Vet for Medical Help

Identifying symptoms and the different insect bites can help you determine the next course of action; however, if you’re unsure of the type of bite causing a severe allergic reaction in your pup, don’t waste any time and head to a vet for medical help. It could be a serious allergic reaction that can cause death.

What If You Get Bitten by a Rabid Dog?

We’ve gone over identifying and treating insect bites on dogs. But what if a dog bites a human? If a dog bites you, wash the wound, slow the bleeding by wrapping a cloth tightly, apply antibiotic cream, and then cover the injury before heading to a doctor. Once you’ve received medical help, contact a dog bite attorney.

If you suffered injuries from a dog bite in California, you must reach out to an experienced dog bite attorney as you may qualify for compensation. Contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation on your case.

Top Notch American Injury Lawyer, Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline

Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.

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