While you can’t protect your pup from every bite or sting—bugs tend to be at their nose level, after all.
You can help him avoid three dangerous insects that pose a health risk if eaten or otherwise annoyed.
Bees and Wasps
Some dogs flee in fear if an insect buzzes by their head. Others see it as a game, one they win by swallowing the invader whole. With bees and wasps, a victory will come with a painful sting. In most cases, these stings result in mild swelling, reddening and itching, says the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, but can cause life-threatening allergic reactions, especially in the case of multiple stings.
Swelling and allergic reactions to insect bites can actually be treated with common
antihistamines such as Benadryl.
How could pups not be curious about a caterpillar? They have colorful, fuzzy bodies and move slowly, making them interesting and easy prey. But, certain species can fight back, according to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Buck moth and hag moth caterpillars as well as puss and stinging rose caterpillars have spines or hairs that can break the skin and inject poison.
Best case: mild itching. Worst case: more severe pain, dermatitis and intestinal issues. Visit the school’s website for help identifying any caterpillars in your yard.
They come in brown and black, and they like to build webs in garages and under shrubs. They are shy, but will bite if threatened by a sniffing nose looking for a tasty treat. Their bite contains a neurotoxic venom that causes pain and a host of other unpleasant symptoms for humans and dogs alike. They can even cause death for pups on the smaller side, states the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Note: Only the females of this species bite, and can be identified by the distinctive hour-glass-shaped red mark on their underside.
How to Deal With and Prevent Bites and Stings
If you see your dog chomp down on one of these insects or notice such symptoms, contact your vet immediately. Additionally, the ASPCA has an Animal Poison Control Center staffed with veterinarians and board-certified veterinary toxicologists 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (888) 426-4435. They can advise you on first-aid treatment, and point you toward the closest open clinic if needed.
You can help your dog avoid getting bitten or stung by training it not to engage with insects. Whether in the yard or out for a walk, correct with a tug of the leash or click, then follow up with positive reinforcement such as a pet or treat. Even though there are far more species of insects that will not make your dog sick than will, you can’t expect your pup to discern when on the hunt.
If you have a beehive your other infestation on your property, there are beekeepers and exterminators in your area more than happy to take it off your hands. A pest control company can treat your yard and home to deter stinging insects from moving in again. An exterminator also can offer housekeeping and landscaping tips on how to prevent them from coming back.