No outdoor summer adventure is complete without sunscreen and/or bug spray. While mosquito bites on humans can be an itchy inconvenience, bug bites on dogs can range from mildly irritating to seriously concerning.
As a pet owner, you play a critical role when it comes to helping your dog avoid common bug bites in dogs; it’s also helpful to know about the risks associated with each type of summer insect and pest.
Fleas are infamous for jumping onto our pets’ bodies from the yard or around the home, and biting and irritating the skin. These tiny pests are around all year, but are especially active during the warmer months.
If you notice your dog scratching, licking, and chewing himself more than usual, he may have fleas. The head, neck, and base of the tail are common targets; you may also find clusters of small red bites on the belly or folds of skin. Some pets are allergic to flea saliva, which leads to even more itching all over the body.
Untreated flea bites can lead to swelling, redness, and hair loss. Some fleas may also transmit tapeworms to your pooch. Fortunately, there are several effective preventative flea medications out there. Ask your vet about the best option for your pup in the form of a treat, pill, topical medication, or flea collar.
Like fleas, ticks are especially active during the warmer months. They’re typically found in tall grass or thick brush, and latch onto a host—your dog’s fur or skin—upon contact.
If the tick is still attached to your dog’s skin, it’s relatively easy to identify. Otherwise, the small red bite left behind looks similar to that of a mosquito. Safely remove the entire tick, grabbing as close to the skin as possible using tweezers or a tick removal tool. Be careful not to leave parts of it behind.
Ticks can transmit serious health issues to dogs and humans alike, so it’s not a bad idea to ask your vet to safely remove the tick.
Talk to your vet about tick prevention medications. Additionally, scan your pup’s body for ticks after spending time outside.
Mites are tiny, contagious pests which burrow and chew into the skin, so it’s very unlikely that you’ll see them before you see their effects. Dogs with mites have similar symptoms as those with fleas: swelling, hair loss, redness, and itching.
Unfortunately, there are currently no preventative medications for mites. Talk to your vet about alternative treatment options, such as giving your dog a fresh summer cut and plenty of soothing baths. Try Pet Honesty’s Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo to help soothe your pup’s irritated skin.
Just as you have probably experienced the sudden itching that occurs after a mosquito bite, dogs also feel the effects of a mosquito bite almost immediately. You may notice some swelling, redness, and itching, but the effects of a dog mosquito bite generally don’t last more than a few hours.
Heartworm larvae can be transmitted to your dog via mosquito bites, so be sure your pet is up-to-date with his regular heartworm medications. Additionally, be aware of any potential signs of allergies to mosquito bites such as swelling in the face, nose, or throat.
Ask your vet about pet-friendly bug sprays to keep the mosquitos at bay.
Bees, Hornets, Wasps
A sting from a bee, hornet, or wasp will result in sudden, significant pain (likely evidenced by a yelp). A sting from these insects often results in significant swelling—this generally isn’t a serious concern, unless the sting occurred on the face and restricts breathing. Depending on where your dog was stung, he may have trouble walking. You may also notice itching and licking around the targeted area, which can be soothed with an ice pack.
There is a chance the insect’s stinger has been left behind after a sting. To remove the stinger, avoid squeezing because this could release even more venom. Instead, use a flat object (such as a credit card) to scrape the stinger out.
Some dogs, like humans, are allergic to bee stings and can show more serious symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, stumbling, and possibly collapse. Call your vet immediately if your dog shows any signs of an allergic reaction.
Other Causes of Itching
In addition to the above-mentioned insects, your dog may also be susceptible to fly, and, and spider bites. If you notice any concerning symptoms including changes in behavior or appearance, talk to your vet. Additionally, be sure your pooch is up-to-date on all of his immunizations and routine preventative medications, as some bug bites can lead to more serious health concerns. If your pup is constantly itchy and you can’t find evidence of a bug bite, he may be experiencing seasonal, environmental, or food allergies.
Help provide them with a safe defense against fleas and ticks with Pet Honesty's new Flea and Tick Defense soft chews. Plus, support your pet’s skin health with Pet Honesty’s Anti-Scratch Salmon Oil, which can help with seasonal and environmental allergies.