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.
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that can produce a life-threatening illness. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in a dog’s body, most severely affecting the intestinal tract. Parvovirus also attacks the white blood cells, and when young animals are infected, the virus can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problem
The stings of centipedes and scorpions cause a local reaction and, at times,
severe illness. These bites heal slowly.
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.)
Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it directly to the
Apply an ice pack to relieve the pain and swelling.
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.
Pit Vipers (Rattlesnakes, Cottonmouths, and Copperheads)
You can identify these species by their large size (4 to 8 feet, 1.2 to 2.4
m, long), triangular heads, pits below and between the eyes, elliptical pupils,
rough scales, and the presence of retractable fangs in the upper jaw.
The bite: You may see one or two bleeding puncture wounds in the skin; these are fang marks.
These marks may not be visible because of the dog’s coat. The pain is immediate
and severe. The tissues are swollen and discolored due to bleeding at the site
of the bite.
Note that 25 percent of poisonous snakebites lack venom and thus do not
produce a local reaction. While absence of local swelling and pain is a good
sign, it does not guarantee the dog won’t become sick. Severe venom poisoning has been known to
occur without a local reaction.
The dog’s behavior: Signs of envenomation may take several hours to appear
because of variables such as time of the year, species of the snake, toxicity
of the venom, amount injected, location of the bite, and size and health of the
dog. The amount of venom injected bears no relationship to the size of the
snake. Signs of venom poisoning include extreme restlessness, panting,
drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, uncoordinated gait, respiratory depression,
shock, and sometimes death.