A puppy scratching away or biting at an area of his body possibly has been bitten by an insect. Bites from any insect on young pups are potentially dangerous, especially those by venomous ones like bees, wasps or some types of spiders. Even flea bites, in large enough numbers, can be life-threatening to a small pup.
The most common insects to bite dogs are fleas, but ticks and mosquitoes also get their mouths on your little pup's blood while outdoors, too. Mosquitoes don't "bite," they insert their proboscises through the skin; but, like ticks, they not only leave behind itchy welts, they can also cause anemia for young pups. They can spread serious diseases and disease-causing parasites like the West Nile virus, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, heartworms and tapeworms, according to the Partnership for Animal Welfare. Other venomous insects like bees, wasps, hornets, spiders and ants may also bite your curious young pooch if he disturbs their nests. While one or two such bites might not be serious to a fully grown dog, for a young pup they are very dangerous.
Insect Bite Signs
Biting at any particular areas of his body can indicate a bite or an infestation. Fleas tend to infest the base of the ears and the base of the tail, according to the American Kennel Club. Other insects, in general, tend to target your pup's face, head, paws, belly and mouth, the Pet Assure Newsletter says. Inspect these areas daily, especially after spending time outdoors. Look for patches of red skin, hair loss or bumps and welts, all of which can indicate an insect bite. Venomous bites may become very swollen, red and painful to the touch, showing up within 20 minutes of the bite.
Systemic Symptoms and Treatment
After being bitten by a venomous insect, your puppy may experience weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, muscle pain, seizures, excitability, fever, trouble breathing or collapse, according to WebMD. These symptoms can appear 12 to 24 hours after a bite. If you notice any of these signs, you must get your pup to the vet right away for treatment. Certain types of insect bites, such as the venom of a brown recluse or black widow spider, can be fatal to a pup without veterinary treatment. Some pups are also allergic to the venom of stinging insects like bees or wasps, making their reactions to the stings more severe than in other dogs.
To prevent your puppy from becoming bitten by any insects, treat him with a flea preventative safe for young pups; get one that also repels mosquitoes and ticks. Most flea medications, including oral medications, are safe only for puppies older than 4 to 6 weeks old and over 2 pounds in weight, according to the Pet Informed website. Keep your pup indoors for the majority of the time, and give him regular baths to remove bugs like fleas. Put little Fido on a leash while outdoors so that he can't explore the hives or nests of stinging insects. Clear your yard of debris weekly, to remove hiding spaces for insects, and check for nests.
- WebMD: Insect Stings and Snake Bites in Dogs
- Pet Assure Newsletter: Insect Bites on Dogs: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment
- WebMD: Dog Ticks and Fleas Q&A
- American Kennel Club: Flea Facts
- Pet Informed: Flea Control For Puppies -- A Guide to Treating Fleas on Puppies
- Hill's Pet Nutrition: What to Do When a Wasp or Bee Stings Your Dog
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.