We’re moving into the hot, steamy time of year that wasps, ants, and hornets seem to love. Sadly, they like to spend most of their time in our yards, trashcans, and places where the family likes to get together. If you think it’s painful when you get stung by a wasp, imagine what it would feel like if your whole face would swell up. This is generally what a dog experiences when they’re stung or bit. It’s a natural inflammatory response, but your dog can still succumb to anaphylaxis or infection.
Know What to Look For
There are a variety of pests that invade the home during this uncomfortable part of the year. You’re likely to notice bees, wasps, ants and other creepy crawlies early on. However, there are plenty of bugs that you can’t see, like ticks and small flies. If your dog has been outside unsupervised regardless of the time period, go ahead and give them a good pat down. Run your fingers through their, check between toes, inside the mouth, and between the armpits and joints to be 100% sure they haven’t been stung or picked up any ticks. If they have, use tweezers to carefully pull them away from your dog’s body. You need to be precise when you do this, the head of the tick needs to remain attached to its own body. If the head gets stuck, you can allow your dog’s body to push the head out by itself, but there is always a risk of infection if you choose to do this.
Wasps and Yellow Jackets Like What Humans Have to Offer
The goal of any living being is to satisfy their basic survival needs: food, water, and shelter. As you’re probably aware, when it’s hot we’re munching on cold popsicles, fountain drinks, and likely spirits for the adults. All of these things contain sugar, so it doesn’t matter whether it’s in your hand, on the ground, or in the trashcan. If it’s sweet and emanates a pleasant scent, wasps will fly toward it. Keep the area around your home pest free by covering trash cans, washing away spills, and if you have any fruit trees in your yard, make sure you get all of the fallen pieces off the ground and into a secured trash bin where insects won’t have any access.
Keep An Eye On Your Pet When They're Outside
It’s easy to let your guard down when it comes to your pets playing in their designated outdoor space. After all, it’s meant to be a safe and happy place for them to explore, right? Well, a sting or a bite can happen within a matter of seconds. If there’s one hornet around, there are probably a hundred more somewhere nearby. One irritated pest can quickly become a full blown attack, and a swarm of painful stingers can be fatal for your dog. Keep a very close eye on your dog when they’re outside, if one hornet turns into several it could be too late to save your pup by the time you realize what’s happening.
Act Quickly, and Stay Composed
For those who have never been in a situation where their dog has been stung, be prepared for a dramatic response from your pet. Stings hurt, your dog might cry out loudly or pace around; this is a normal response to pain, don’t lose your cool. If you become anxious or scared it will only make the situation worse, keep your composure and examine your pet. Once your dog has relaxed enough to where you can safely examine them, figure out where the location of the sting is and make sure it isn’t there still. If you find that there is one present, use tweezers to carefully remove what’s left; expect to see some inflammation, swelling, and soreness around the wound. However, there’s also the chance that your dog might have allergic reaction, so if you notice they’re struggling to breathe, walk, or salivating excessively you need to get to the veterinarian. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening, and your pet can succumb to this inflammatory response in under an hour.
Cleaning and Debriding
As long as your dog isn’t experiencing any extreme problems, you can take care of the area on your own. Allow the sting site to receive open air, and use a salt water mixture that can be squirted from a plastic bottle or syringe to clean the wound of any toxins. You can also give your dog Benadryl measured by weight to help with the pain and swelling, expect to see some drowsiness afterward; this is a normal side effect of Benadryl and it isn’t harmful. Most of the time canines don’t appreciate cold things making contact with their skin, but if your dog will let you place a bag of peas or a gel pad on the area, it brings down the swelling. You should also keep in mind that no matter how sweet your pet is, an animal in pain will sometimes lash out. It’s not that they mean to hurt you, it’s just that they aren’t always able to comprehend that all we want to do is help them get better. If your dog tries to bite or growls at you while examining the area, you need to protect yourself and use a muzzle. They may not like it, but it won’t hurt your pet and it helps to get the process over with quickly.
Seek a Professional
Sometimes it seems like we’ve taken care of the problem, but if a small piece of the stinger or other foreign objects get stuck under the skin it can create a deeper infection. The longer you leave it this way, the more likely your pet is to become ill, and possibly septic. They need antibiotics to prevent bacteria from spreading to their blood and internal organs; something this extreme isn’t often presented with minor abrasions like a bee sting. Your dog should be feeling a whole lot better within a 48 hour period, just check on the sting site every so often and make sure your dog isn’t licking it or getting it dirty when they’re outdoors.
Protect Your Home
Keep garbage bins tightly sealed, and store them in an enclosed area where insects are unable to pick up a scent. Doing so will also help to prevent ants from burrowing into your yard for easy access to water and a food source. Ants can be particularly awful if your dog happens to stand in a hill, it only takes a few seconds for tens to hundreds of them to crawl up their leg. While a single ant bite might not be so bad, getting bit several times can be incredibly painful. Although the amount is small, ants release venom and pheromones through their pinchers. If 20 to 30 ants all start to munch on your skin at once, the reaction can be pretty unbearable. Getting rid of these pesky little monsters can be tricky depending on what type you have; fire ants for example are aggressive, and usually require an effective pesticide. The little black ants that you find in your garden can easily be removed with used coffee grounds. Just pour a little bit over the area that you usually find them, and you should start to see the colony die within a day or two.
Keep a Canine First Aid Kit on Hand
The unfortunate thing about injuries is that we aren’t always prepared for them. Things happen unexpectedly, and even if you know exactly what you’re supposed to, procedures are no good if you don’t have the right equipment to take care of the problem. Your kit should plenty of gauze bandaging, adhesive tape to keep bandages secure, antibacterial wipes, plastic gloves, saline solution, cotton balls, Q-tips a pair of scissors, and a pair of tweezers. Other items to include would be styptic powder for broken nails, hydrogen peroxide to help your dog throw up harmful items they may have eaten, and a gel pad that can be heated or frozen. This way you can always reduce inflammation from a sting, or heat it up to soothe a strained muscle.
Don’t Let Your Pet Hoard Treats
Canines are naturally inclined to protect their resources from outside invaders. Toys are fine, but if your dog has a habit of stashing their treats and chews for a later opportunity, it’s bound to attract unwanted visitors. Make sure you’re checking inside your dog’s house on a regular basis and clear out any leftover food that they make have stocked away. Even if there isn’t any food, you should still rinse and dry the house at least once a week to keep it clean. This way, you create an unfriendly environment for pests and your dog gets to be happy and comfortable!