For the love of your pets: Insects can be harmful to your pets

June 9, 2010 at 1:09 a.m.


Q: With the recent weather and temperature changes, there are a lot of new insects coming out in force. What insects are harmful to my dog?

A: Well, it's summertime and there are a lot of insects suddenly springing up. A lot of the insect population has to do with the abundance of rain we recently encountered. Saturation of the soil and tree roots can force some insects out of their normal home and into your home or yard.

Everyone knows that the rain provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes. They are biting insects that can carry heartworms to your dog if he/she is not protected. Roaches are also starting to rear their ugly heads. These critters, though nasty, are no cause for concern when it comes to your dog. In the same no problem category you will find June bugs, beetles, grasshoppers and crickets. Though these insects do not bite, sting or carry infection to your dog, if eaten they can cause gastric upset.

Vomiting, diarrhea and even pancreatitis can be caused from dogs chasing and swallowing too many of these jumping, winged bugs. If you notice your dog catching or killing these bugs, you should try and clean up the remains as soon as possible to avoid ingestion.

There are other bugs that can cause problems for you dogs. Bees, hornets and wasps are buzzing around and being a tempting toy for your dog to catch. Once caught, the insect will sting the inside of your pet's mouth, causing a lot of salivation and swelling inside the mouth, including the tongue. If your dog is stung by one of these insects, in the mouth or on the body, you might notice a localized or generalized swelling. A large lump and tenderness where the initial sting took place is usually noticeable. It may be followed with a generalized reaction, like trouble breathing, swelling of the face, redness and swelling around the eyes. If you can see the stinger, try and remove it with a pair of tweezers. Applying a cold compress to the affected area can help with localized swelling and irritation. If you are unable to take your dog to a veterinarian, call and find out what dose of Benadryl to give your dog. This will help with the histamine response your dog is having to the sting.

Scorpions are another stinging insect that seems to be more prevalent after the recent rain. They have a tendency to hide in your pets bedding or a stack of laundry on the floor. If your pet is stung by a scorpion, you should follow the same protocol as stated above.

Spider bites are usually a lot harder to notice. It can start with a small irritation and turn into a big problem. Most spider bites go unnoticed for 3-5 days and then tenderness and swelling become a problem in the paws and legs. Dogs usually do not exhibit any signs or symptoms immediately after being bitten, but may limp or show swelling a few days later. If you suspect a spider bite, a veterinary visit is highly recommended.

If you are still concerned with the bugs or how to handle them, contact your local veterinarian or myself with anymore questions or concerns.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at



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