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Insect stings and spider bites in pets

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

The hot weather and rising temperatures in the UAE have brought out lots of insects this year and we have seen an increase in the Red Potter Wasp ( Delta dimidiatipenne ) and the common yellow wasp, known as the Arabian paper wasp. These are commonly found in many parks and gardens in the UAE and can be fatal if your Dog or Cat stung is allergic to the insect’s venom.

There are also an increasing number of the Red Back Spider in many of the communities around Dubai. The Red back Spider bite can be fatal. As pets go, Guinea Pigs are the most susceptible to the bite of a Red Back. Cats come next and dogs are the most resistant to the bite, but they are certainly not immune.

We have seen numerous cases in the clinic this year certainly of the stings from these types of wasps but not so many of the spider bites, although these do occur. What makes it especially difficult is that our furry friends tend to like to chase things like the wasps and their only defense is too sting to protect themselves. Cats may get stung on their paws from swiping at them and also by trying to eat them once they have made the wasp defenseless, Dogs however tend to get stung on the nose from sniffing around in the long grasses and also on their paws. In most cases a single sting may not effect the animal too much but several stings could see you on a trip to your vets.

As for the Red back spider, they tend to hide away in corners or undisturbed areas, which in the summer heat makes our gardens a breeding ground for them with the lack of movement, the only ones likely to disturb them during the summer is our pets!

If you believe your pet to have been stung or bitten firstly try to see what insect was the culprit and then be vigilant and take your dog to the veterinary emergency clinic at the first sign of any of the below:

  1. Severe swelling around the head and neck that could compromise respiration. Swelling in these areas may occur even if the bite occurred elsewhere.

  2. Hives on any part of the body. Hives appear as bumps under the skin that raise the hair or as red bumps on hairless areas like the belly. Hives itch a lot, so the dog may roll in the grass or on the floor in an attempt to scratch at hard to reach places.

  3. Difficulty breathing or wheezing. Some dogs pant more than usual because they have swelling in the respiratory passages and/or because they are nervous. Don’t attempt to figure out the reason, take the dog to your veterinarian.

  4. Excessive drooling. If there is swelling in the throat, the dog has difficulty swallowing her own saliva and drools a lot.

  5. Agitation. Some dogs become anxious due to the itching and difficulty breathing. Also, the insect venom may affect the nervous system.

  6. Vomiting or diarrhea. Even mild vomiting and soft stool can indicate trouble, so don’t blow this symptom off.

  7. Dizziness or disorientation. If your dog isn’t alert or stumbles, he is having more than the normal reaction.

  8. Seizures. This is a no-brainer. Call the doctor.

Particular to RED BACK BITES

After a Red Back bites, your pet will show intense pain at the site of the bite, especially if touched. Cats will usually salivate excessively and will produce thick, ropy saliva. The cat will be distressed, restless and breathless. It will usually show muscular weakness or tremors and muscle paralysis. Red Back Spiders often bite cats on the tongue. This causes the cat great distress. Its tongue will protrude from its mouth. Veterinarians have reported an occasional and unusual symptom in cats that have been poisoned by a Red Back – the sporadic “stretching” of the outside toe of the hind limbs as if it the cat has a mild cramp. Dogs are less susceptible to the bite of a Red Back Spider but the signs are similar. Pain at the site of the bite occurs and the dog may also vomit. An antivenene is available and is rapidly effective. While it is not always used in dogs, it is usually lifesaving with cats.

If your dog or cat shows any signs or is struggling he may be having a severe reaction and needs to get to the vet immediately.

For wasp bites only!!

If you hear the pet yelp but he or she is not showing any signs of a reaction you can simple check the area and treat at home. If you can see the barb/sting this can easily be removed with a pair of tweezer or by simply scrapping it away with a nail.

Pain relief can be given by putting a cool press on the area and or a mixture of water and baking soda. Watch your pet over a few hours and do not leave alone in case the reaction takes effect at a later time. Also if you notice the swelling not going down after a few days then get your pet checked by a veterinarian.

For Red Back Bites

Seek medical advice immediately especially with cats..

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