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How to Identify and Treat Bug Bites on Dogs (With FAQs)

Dog bit by bug and severe allergic reactions to bug bites on dogs

If you notice odd behaviors from your dog, such as itching and scratching all day, then there’s a good chance your dog has bug bites.

A dog bit by a bug can be diagnosed by going to a vet, but there are signs you can spot right away.

An insect bite does not only cause severe discomfort, but it can be detrimental to your dog’s life if not treated right away.

The first step to counter health-threatening bites is to know about the bugs that may harm your dog.

How to Tell Your Dog Has a Bug Bite

A dog scratching its skin due to insect or bug bites

A dog bitten by a bug is pretty easy to notice. Here are some telltale signs that your pooch might display if it gets a bug bite.

Visible redness of the skin

One obvious sign of insect bites is the redness of your dog’s skin. A bug bite usually leaves a small red dot that causes itching.

In case of multiple bites, these may be visible all over the skin or may just be concentrated in one spot.

The redness of the skin is caused by inflammation due to the bug’s bite. It may be harmless, but some can look gruesome and be filled with pus — a common sign of infection. 

This infection may start small but can eventually lead to moderate to high fevers.

If these signs persist for 24 hours or more, you should go to the vet and get it checked out. But if it is just a normal, harmless bite, using home remedies can also work.

Intense itching

Scratching an itch is one thing, but excessively doing it throughout the day may be a sign of an insect bite. If you see your dog get tired from scratching all day, then it’s time to check out the bug bite.

Intense itching can cause skin lesions and bleeding. Before going to seek immediate professional help, check whether the itchiness looks foul or normal.

Putting a dog cone over your pup’s head prevents it from scratching the bitten area and can also minimize the development of scars. Ointments and home remedies are good alternatives to let the itch subside.

Unusual vocal sounds

The extreme discomfort that dogs experience because of an insect bite may cause them to howl, bark, whine or create unusual sounds you have never heard of.

Their constant crying and whining are indications that something is wrong. To know what is causing your dog distress, you must be mindful of the first obvious signs of insect bites to determine the next steps.

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions caused by an insect bite can be as mild as tingling sensations or as severe as an anaphylactic shock.

Make sure that your dog is tested against common allergens to find out what they are allergic to.

Severe allergic reactions may also damage a dog’s skin. Swelling, redness, sometimes vomiting, and difficulty breathing may also occur. 

Hence, it’s best to get bug bites treated before they become life-threatening. Luckily, there are a lot of vet-approved methods when it comes to treating insect bites.

How to Treat Bug Bites on a Dog at Home

Treating bug bites on dogs

If your dog’s insect bites are not too serious, consider looking up some DIY remedies. Not only does a home remedy help you save a couple of bucks, but it will also ease your dog’s pain quicker.

Here are a few methods you can try to alleviate your dog’s irritation due to a bug bite.

Check for stingers on the affected area

Removing a bee or wasp stinger on your dog’s skin is the first step to preventing swelling. Use tweezers or your nails to remove the stinger. This process does not hurt and won’t cause extreme pain to your dog.

However, if your dog is allergic to bees or wasps, it may cause some bumps on its skin and may even lead to pain.

Apply a cold compress to mediate swelling

Some dogs heal faster than others. If you notice that your dog’s skin is still acting up after several hours, you may apply a cold compress to minimize the swelling.

Cold compress relaxes the blood vessels and alleviates uncomfortable itchiness on your dog. This also makes them less likely to scratch.

Give your dog Benadryl

If your dog gets spider bites or bee stings and it swells, don’t worry because it is completely normal. The only time you should consider medical attention is when it swells twice as large and emits fluid.

Use Benadryl to counter the swelling and itching your dog is experiencing. It’s an affordable over-the-counter drug that can cause drowsiness in your dog. 

When using Benadryl, it’s important to keep the dosage to around 50mg for a 50-pound dog. If you’re in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact a veterinarian.

Use homemade ointments

Homemade remedies are really cheap and easy to make at home. Before taking your dog to the vet, you can consider natural remedies to prevent swelling and spreading infections.

One way to do this is by mixing baking soda with water or by applying aloe vera to your dog’s insect bite. Usually, with these home remedies, your dog’s itch will be gone in a few minutes. 

You may also use frozen vegetables or an ice pack alongside homemade ointments to minimize the itchiness.

Clean the wound or infected area

After removing the stinger, run the infected area across cold water to clean the wound. It would be dangerous for any bacteria to enter the wound as it may cause more complications.

If the wound looks serious, apply some ointment or clean it with some betadine. Put a bandage or a band-aid so the wound can heal while staying clean.

These home methods are applicable for mild symptoms of irritation due to a dog’s bite. Although some reactions cannot be addressed with basic home remedies and buying ointments can be a good alternative too.

Home remedies only work for mild symptoms. Keep in mind that DIY kits do not guarantee the same results as medical ointments or antibiotics and may only ease your dog’s discomfort for a short period of time.

For best results, you may consult an animal expert for tips for effective home remedies to treat insect bites on canines.

When to See the Vet for Bug Bites on Dogs

Veterinarian checking bug bites on dogs skin

Bug bite reactions can range from mild itching to severe seizures and occasional shocks. Below are some alarming symptoms you should look out for. 

If your dog is experiencing a serious allergic reaction

A simple redness on your dog’s body from a tick bite or ant bite is not a cause for alarm. However, if the bitten areas are not immediately cared for, severe signs of allergic reactions may show.

Some of these reactions that can be detrimental to your dog’s health are cold limbs, low blood pressure, seizures, and even a coma.

These clinical signs progress from mild to moderate, so it’s very important to take action once the signs start appearing.

If this is the first time your dog was bitten

If you are one of the first-time dog owners who have no idea what to do if their furry friends are bitten by bugs, then coming to the vet may be the first best choice.

Ask the vet for the necessary steps on carefully caring for insect bites on dogs. This way, you won’t have to go back every time it happens unless it is a severe case that requires emergency care.

If your dog is experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, or dizziness

Vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness are never good combinations. If you see your dog experience this after a spider bite or a mosquito bite, then your pet’s life can be in danger.

Don’t think twice, and call your vet for an emergency appointment. These three clinical signs can cause fatigue and dehydration, which the vet can take care of at once.

If your dog is experiencing anaphylactic shock

Anaphylactic shock is the intensified version of an allergic reaction that is mostly caused by allergies to food, materials, medications, and insect bites. It should be treated right away because it is extremely deadly.

Your dog may experience convulsions and restricted breathing and may even stop your dog’s heart. Visit your vet immediately to ensure your dog’s survival.

As a pet owner, observing your dog’s symptoms is important in deciding whether or not your dog needs to go to the vet. If they are not feeling better in 24 hours, then it’s best to set an emergency appointment.

9 Most Common Bug Bites on Dogs

Bug bites on dogs with redness on skin

Canines suffer a lot from different insect bites and may experience different symptoms, too. Below is the list of the most common bug bites your dog may encounter.

1. Flea bites

Flea bites are undoubtedly the most common bug bites on dogs. Fleas love the warm fur of both canines and felines and will continue to emit flea saliva if not controlled.

One flea bite may result in flea allergy dermatitis. Doing a thorough clean-up on places where your dog spends most of its time will help exterminate fleas. Moreover, giving your pooch flea baths every summer is also recommended.

Flea bites are more common during the summertime and are easily picked up outdoors. Even indoor dogs have a chance of getting them.

2. Tick bites

Tick bites on dogs are pretty annoying to feel and look at. Not only do they cause bite marks, but as they consume your dog’s blood, it transfers other diseases to their system.

One of these diseases is Lyme disease, which symptoms include fever, headache, erythema migrans, and fatigue. Lyme disease can even cause arthritis and lameness. 

To counter this, always make sure your dog’s surroundings are clean and free of these parasites, even dried dead ticks

READ NEXT: Dried Dead Tick on Dog: How to Remove It & What to Do (With FAQs)

3. Mite bites

A mite infestation can be very troublesome for both the dog owner and the pet. Mites invade a pup’s coat in many numbers, and it is rare to find them in singles.

There are several types of mites that can attach to your dog’s epidermis, such as canine scabies, ear mites, and walking dandruff, all of which can cause irritated skin.

Get your dog checked up as early as the first visible signs of mite bites.

4. Fire ant bites

Fire ant bites on dogs can cause extreme discomfort. You may notice your dogs act restlessly once bitten by a fire ant. This is because of the venom they excrete once in contact with the skin.

The venom causes skin lesions described as different irregularly shaped bumps on the affected part of the skin. If not treated right away, it may worsen and even develop pus-filled blisters.

Fire ants cause a lot of pain, and keeping them away from your dog’s area is one way for your dog to avoid showing clinical signs.

5. Spider bites

Most spiders are non-poisonous, but brown recluse spiders and black widow spiders are the exceptions. These are dangerous and venomous creatures that owners should watch out for. 

A brown recluse spider’s bite mark does not appear immediately, and it is very difficult to notice because its bites are painless. 

Once the venom is settled, it worsens and will most likely develop into white blisters. You may also find your dog has trouble breathing once the venom seeps in. 

The black widow spider’s bite, on the other hand, causes intense pain. Your dog may experience muscle pain, intense drooling, and even vomiting.

Here’s a video explaining what happens to your dog when it gets bitten by a spider:

Spider Bites! Dr. Dan explains if your dog gets bit by a spider.

6. Bee stings

A bee sting usually occurs when a dog accidentally disturbs a beehive. Most insects bite, but bees sting and even leave a stinger embedded on the canine’s skin. 

Bees love stinging the dog’s face, and this can cause significant swelling. To alleviate the swelling, take some baking soda and mix it with water until it forms a thick paste. 

You can use this thick paste of baking soda as a natural remedy. Generally, bee stings aren’t a cause for alarm, but it also depends on the bite site.

7. Mosquito bites

Mosquito bites are probably the least concerning insect bites. Compared to some insect bites that cause shock, a mosquito bite only causes redness and swelling.

Be careful, though, as some mosquitoes can carry heartworm larvae that can be dangerous and lead to heartworm disease.

8. Black fly bites

Black fly bites aren’t as bad as spider bites or tick bites. In fact, it causes milder symptoms than mosquito bites. Black flies are more harmless, and their bites disappear over time.

The worst your dog can get from a black fly are irritated, sore skin, and maybe skin infection. Luckily, these are treatable with medication and ointments.

Each bug brings a different reaction to your dog’s well-being, and knowing what type of bug your dog is allergic to can be your first step in preventing serious illness. 

Contact your breeder to know more about your dog’s health history, or simply go to your local vet to get an allergy test.

READ NEXT: Black Fly Bites on Dogs: Symptoms & Treatments (With FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions

Close up of the insect bites on dogs skin

How Long Does a Bug Bite on a Dog Last?

Most telling signs of a bug’s bite can last within 12 to 24 hours. Anything that goes beyond and is partnered by severe reactions from your pet should be taken as an emergency situation.

Some bites can appear as a circular rash and may last from 3 to 30 days after getting bitten. This is only the case for a rash, though. If other symptoms persist, consult your local veterinarian.

Can Dogs Get Sick From Bug Bites?

Yes, insect bites on dogs can make them ill. The severity of their sickness can range from moderate to mild. Different bug bites can cause severe symptoms such as vomiting and even hair loss.

The sickness that they get from getting bitten by a bug usually stems from their individual allergies.

For example, if your dog is allergic to bee stings, he may have difficulty breathing instead of just normal inflammation.

How Do I Know If My Dog Got Bit by a Spider?

Most spider bites often show a distinct redness compared to other insect bites. Moreover, if you notice your dog is showing severe signs of pain after the insect bite, then it is most likely caused by one.

Your dog may also show signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, or an increased heart rate once bitten by a poisonous spider. The severity of pain and discomfort depends on the potency of the spider’s venom.

Can a Bug Bite Cause a Dog to Have a Seizure?

Yes, an insect bite can definitely cause seizures. However, it only happens in intense cases. Black widow bites or brown recluse spider bites can cause seizures.

The toxins brought by the bug can travel to a dog’s nervous system, thus damaging it. This may require some internal medicine procedures and neurological checkups.

How Do You Tell If a Bite Is Infected?

An insect bite is infected when you see it swell around the bite and is filled with pus. It is also very painful and is often warm. In some cases, it can look very red and may even bleed at times.

Infected insect bites may also look like an open wound that is usually accompanied by chilling sensations and/or fever. Antibiotics or IV injections may be required once their temperature rises up.

Final Thoughts

An insect bite can bring pain pangs to your dog’s body, and it can even break down its immune system. Learning how to properly treat insect bites can help in maintaining your pet’s health.

In short, preventing bug bites is easier than treating them. Most insect bites might not be harmful, but there are insect stings that can lead to severe conditions.

As a dog owner, keeping your puppies tick-free and your area free from all forms of insects is an absolute must. After all, a dog’s habitat must always be kept clean to ensure their physical and mental health. 

If you’ve had an experience with bug bites on dogs, tell us your story in the comment section below.