Wasp stings in dogs and cats

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Wasp stings in dogs and cats

Dogs and cats are often curious. They like to investigate or hunt insects, and therefore run the risk of being stung. Most dogs and cats can cope well with a wasp or insect sting. In many cases, a single sting will cause signs such as swelling, pain, redness and itching at the site. Your dog or cat may be a little sore at the site for a few days. In rare cases, dogs and cats, just like humans, may have an allergic reaction. If it becomes severe, they may need to see their vet.

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What to do if your dog or cat gets stung by a wasp?

Try to remain calm. Most stings do not need treatment. However, take a closer look, and sometimes you may see the sting left in the skin. Be careful not to get bitten or scratched, by using a magnifying glass and tweezers you might be able to remove the sting. If you cannot see it, then the sting has most likely fallen out. Squeezing the site may release more venom, so it is better to try and gently scrape the skin with something blunt, such as a credit card.

Clean the sting site with salt water (1 teaspoon salt in 500ml/1 pint of cooled boiled water) or a diluted antibacterial agent, such as chlorhexidine solution. If your pet is in pain, you can gently cool the skin with an ice cube wrapped in a clean and moist cloth. Prevent the animal from licking the area and causing further trauma. If your dog or cat is stung anywhere on the head or neck, the nose, mouth or throat, for example, there is a risk that they may swell up and have difficulty breathing, eating, drinking and swallowing. For these cases, please contact your vet promptly. They will be able to provide immediate treatment to reduce the swelling and prevent these problems from occurring.

Snake bites in the UK are rare. The European adder (Vipera berus) is the only venomous snake native to the UK. Adult adders are approximately 50-60cm long. They have a brown zigzag pattern along their back, and a V or X shaped marking on the back of the head. Adders are most commonly found in the south and south west of England, Yorkshire, western Wales and Scotland, where their chosen habitats include sand dunes, rocky mountains, moorland and the edges of woodland. For information about how to help your pet if it is bitten by a snake, please read our article.

When to contact your physical vet:

  • If your pet is stung around the head and neck
  • Difficulty breathing, swallowing, eating or drinking
  • Persistent itching or an infection at the site of a suspected sting or bite
  • If your pet may have been bitten by a snake

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Published: 03/06/2020
Last updated: 15/06/2022

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