Things That Bite and Sting: Beware the Insects of Summer

If fire ants have attacked your pet, remove the animal from the area to stop additional ants from attacking. Carefully brush off the fire ants that you see on your pet's body; attempting to slap them can simply aggravate them more. Make sure that you are wearing gloves and protective clothing, as the fire ants will attack you during this process. Don't spray water on your pet to remove the ants because it can increase the amount of bites.

Cool compresses can be used on the affected area to help reduce pain and swelling. Antihistamines can be used in mild cases, but be sure to call your veterinarian to find out which products can be used on your pet and for an appropriate dose. Anaphylaxis can also occur secondary to fire ant bites. See your veterinarian for treatment if your pet is having any difficulty breathing or if they seem painful.

Treat fire ant mounds with pesticides to help protect your pets and children. Fire ants live in large societies, and their mounds can house anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of ants. Always follow label directions and make sure to keep your pets away from treated areas.

Venomous Walking Sticks

While the “sting” from these insects doesn’t come from their bite, it can be just as painful. While most species of walking stick insects are completely harmless, in the southeastern United States there are some species that have the ability to spray defensive venom when they think they are being threatened. These walking sticks can aim the spray into your pet’s eyes and mouth. When this venom gets in the eyes of a cat or a dog, it is very painful and stops the animal from hurting the walking stick. The venom can actually cause a chemically induced corneal ulcer (burn) and even temporary blindness. If your pet is squinting or rubbing at his eyes, or his eyes look red and swollen, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. You may be directed to rinse the eyes with saline solution or tap water before your appointment.

While not all bee stings or fire ant bites require medical attention, you do need to know when to contact your veterinarian if your pet is attacked by one of the many ubiquitous stinging and biting insects of summer.


Read more Vetstreet articles by Dr. Tina Wismer:

How to Keep Your Lawn and Garden Green, Bug Free — and Pet Safe

Aromatherapy: Relaxation or Torment for Pets?

Will Biting Into a Glow Stick Make My Pet Sick?

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