Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bug Bites and Bee Stings

There comes a time every year where insects are a nuisance to everyone, even our dogs. Spring offers us pesky black flies (their bites are the little red rings we find on our dogs bellies), Summer through fall brings the mosquitoes, horseflies, spiders, wasps, bees etc.  Just like people, some dogs are more sensitive to the bite of one of these insects than others. It might result in just a puffy face or it could turn into a serious situation that needs medical assistance. I personally, working at the vet the last 5 years, haven't seen any cases where a bug bite resulted in trouble breathing but have definitely seen some very puffy faces come through the door.

So what do you do if your dog's face starts swelling? You can give them a benadryl dose. It typically is 1 mg/lb. Benadryl comes in 25mg capsules. Say your dog weighs 75lbs, one dose for them would be 3 tablets of benadryl.  If your dog is 80lbs it would likely still be a 3 tablet dose. When in doubt, you should always contact your vet to get the correct dose for your dog. They will tell you how often you can give the benadryl if the swelling hasn't  gone down after the first dose. There isn't much for side effects with giving benadryl other than may result in tiredness. I do, however, have one of my labs who vomits every time I have given him benadryl. I know this because of trial and error. Sometimes I give him a dose if he has been bit by a horsefly while other times I do not. After the bug bite, he only vomits if benadryl is involved. Henry, my other lab, has no side effects when taking benadryl.
If your dog isn't exhibiting signs of discomfort or irritation from the bites the swelling will often subside on its own. In the picture above of Henry, he was bitten by 3 horseflies at once around his eye while he was swimming. I couldn't swat them off nor could he. The flies had a feast. His face started out swelling just around the eye and then after a couple hours spread down the left side of his muzzle and jowls. His lip was about 3x as thick as as his normal side and the corners of his mouth were almost the size of golf balls. I gave him one dose of benadryl, 2 tablets, he was 60lbs when it happened, and come morning it had decreased in size. I could have given him more but because the swelling was going down on its own and he wasn't showing any signs of discomfort, I let nature take care of the rest. When I returned from work his face was back to normal. The biggest thing is if you are ever unsure, or your dog has trouble breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately!

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