First Aid for Insect Bites in Pets
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith

Cause
Stings of bees, wasps, hornets, or ants.

General Information
Signs usually occur within about 20 minutes of the bite. Animals should be observed for at least 12-24 hours after a reaction, as mild symptoms may progress in severity.

The stings of bees, wasps, and ants often occur on hairless areas such as the stomach and feet, but are most common on the face, head, or inside the mouth. Stings and bites tend to produce local inflammation and pain, which takes about an hour to subside. Multiple stings and bites can cause a severe allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock. With some insects, such as honey bees, the entire venom-stinger apparatus is torn from the insect's body after stinging and remains attached to the victim. This apparatus contains muscle tissue that may continue contracting, thereby injecting more venom into the pet. Do not remove this using tweezers as that may inject more venom into the pet. It is better to gently scrape (with a credit card or similar card) the stinger out. Some wasps and hornets may sting repeatedly because the venom-stinger apparatus remains attached to the insect.

Toxic Dose
Dependent upon the type of insect, location and number of bites, and immune system of the individual animal.

Signs
Usually characterized by swelling of the eyelids, ear flaps, lips, and sometimes the entire face (angioedema). If the pet has been stung in the nose or mouth, watch for immediate, large swelling. This may cause the pet to have a hard time breathing. May also see urticaria (hives, wheals, or welts) or localized swelling if the skin is involved. The bites are often pruritic (itch). In an anaphylactic reaction, animals may also go into shock with symptoms such as wheezing, weakness, unconsciousness, pale mucous membranes, weak and thready pulse, increased heart rate, fever, or cold extremities (legs), trembling, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, and collapse.

Immediate Action
Remove stinger if possible. Apply a paste of baking soda and water to the sting or bite to relieve the itching. Ammonia or calamine lotion dabbed on with a cotton ball can also relieve itching and pain. Apply an ice pack or cold compress to the area to relieve pain and swelling. Contact your veterinarian.

Veterinary Care
General treatment: The stinger will be removed if present.

Supportive treatment: Corticosteroids and antihistamines are administered, and epinephrine if necessary. IV fluids and oxygen are administered if necessary. Blood tests may be performed if organ damage is suspected. If the animal has been stung inside the mouth, eating may be painful. Soften the food with water or feed a soft food.

Specific treatment: Unavailable.

Prognosis
Usually favorable. Guarded, if shock is present.

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