Pets are commonly bitten or stung by insects, causing painful lesions that may get infected. In addition, bugs can transmit dangerous bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can significantly harm your pet. Our team at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital wants to help you recognize signs that your pet has been bitten, and recommend ways to keep them protected from these critters.

What happens if a flea bites my pet?

Fleas are the most common external parasite that affects cats and dogs, and these annoying insects can ingest up to 15 times their body weight in blood.

  • Signs — Flea-bitten pets are extremely itchy and will scratch, rub, lick, and bite, to alleviate their distress. You may also see fleas or flea dirt on your pet or their bedding. Flea bite lesions are commonly found on your pet’s head, neck, groin, and tail base.
  • Problems — Flea saliva commonly causes allergic reactions in pets, leading to severe itchiness and hair loss. Fleas also can transmit tapeworms, if your pet ingests an infected flea while grooming. In severe cases, fleas can cause anemia.
  • Treatment — Your pet’s skin lesions should clear quickly once the fleas are eradicated from their body and environment. Bathe your pet using an appropriate medicated shampoo, wash your pet’s bedding, and vacuum their environment thoroughly.
  • Prevention — Your pet should receive year-round flea prevention medication, to ensure they are not affected by these troublesome parasites.

What happens if a tick bites my pet?

Ticks are hardy creatures that can be active year-round. They commonly attach to your pet when they walk through tall grass or wooded areas. 

  • Signs — Always check your pet for ticks after they have been outside. They are commonly found on your pet’s face, head, ears, groin, paws, and under their tail. After a tick unlatches, the bite area may be red and swollen, and may develop a crust.
  • Problems — Ticks can transmit several, potentially life-threatening illnesses, such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis.
  • Treatment — Remove any tick you find on your pet as soon as possible. Use tweezers to grasp the head close to your pet’s skin, and firmly pull the tick off your pet. Save the tick in alcohol in case our veterinary professionals need to test the bug for disease. Clean the bite well, and monitor the area for swelling or discharge.
  • Prevention — Your pet should receive year-round tick prevention medication to ensure these parasites can’t cause a problem.

What happens if a mosquito bites my pet?

You have likely experienced uncomfortable itching after a mosquito bite, and pets are not exempt from being bitten by these parasites.

  • Signs — When bitten, pets typically will lick, chew, or scratch the bite site. Swelling, redness, or hives may be seen, but a mosquito bite lesion is unlikely to cause long-term effects.
  • Problems — Mosquitoes can transmit heartworms, which cause severe damage to your pet’s heart, lungs, and vasculature. 
  • Treatment — The bite site needs no specific attention.
  • Prevention — Your pet should receive year-round heartworm prevention and yearly heartworm testing, to protect them from these parasites.

What happens if mites bite my pet?

Mites, such as sarcoptes and demodex, burrow under the skin to feed and live, causing mange.

Signs — Mites are microscopic, so you will not be able to see the insects, but you will notice their effects. Signs include intense itching, swelling, redness, hair loss, and crusting and oozing lesions. These can occur anywhere on your pet’s body, but the most common sites are the armpits, groin, ear margins, and elbows.

  • Problems — The skin lesions with mange will cause your pet extreme discomfort, and these parasites are highly contagious.
  • Treatment — Mange treatment requires prescription medication. If you suspect your pet has mange, contact our veterinary team for help. Also, thoroughly wash, or discard and replace, your pet’s bedding, and treat their environment with an insecticide.
  • Prevention — No preventive medications are available for mites, so limit your pet’s exposure to other pets and wildlife that could carry the parasites.

What happens if bees, wasps, or hornets sting my pet?

Pets are curious, and often stick their nose in places they shouldn’t. This behavior can result in a bee, wasp, or hornet sting.

  • Signs — The sting will cause unexpected pain, and your pet may jump or vocalize suddenly. The area may be red or swollen.
  • Problems — Stings are painful, and some pets are allergic. In these cases, you may notice hives, vomiting, diarrhea, or collapse. In addition, stings on the nose or face can restrict breathing. These signs indicate a veterinary emergency, and your pet should receive medical care as soon as possible.
  • Treatment — As long as your pet is not allergic, and is not stung on the nose or face, applying an ice pack should be sufficient treatment.
  • Prevention — When out for walks, don’t allow your pet to approach hives, and prevent them from sticking their noses in holes.

Bug bites can be problematic for pets, but by providing year-round parasite prevention, you can protect them from many harmful conditions. If you would like to discuss what parasite prevention program is best for your pet, contact our team at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital, so we can ensure they are protected from the creepy crawlies.