Allergic Reactions to Dog Bug Bites

Dogs can get into all sorts of mischief, especially when outdoors, but sometimes this can result in more than a mild allergy. For a dog, bug bites can result in severe life threatening symptoms. Allergic reactions occur when the immune system produces antibodies that stimulate certain cells to produce chemicals. These chemicals cause the allergic reactions that are meant to protect the body from the intrusive bug bite. However, sometimes reactions are so strong they can actually be fatal.

Step 1: Prevent Bites if Possible

Most dogs survive a bug bite allergic reaction with few long lasting consequences, but emergency treatment can be scary and upsetting for both you and your dog. There really is no way to prevent your dog from being bitten or stung by insects, but you can be prepared. If you know you live in an area that has a Lyme tick infestation, keep your dog out of the water, woods and high grass. Make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked with antibacterial ointment and Benadryl. Keep a record of any known bug bite allergies your dog may have. If you have a puppy, handle him often so that he gets used to you touching him just in case you have to treat him.

Step 2: Assess Severity of Allergy

If your dog does have an allergic reaction despite your efforts, you'll want to know how severe the allergy is. Allergic reactions to dog bug bites can be mild, moderate or severe. Even in a mild reaction, your dog may whimper, cry, have a swollen face or paws, run a fever, be lethargic and have no appetite. A moderate allergic reaction produces urticaria, a more pronounced swelling of the bitten area, hives, redness around lips, eyes or neck, and general itchiness. At this stage, if the allergic reaction goes untreated, the symptoms could progress to anaphylactic shock. This type of shock can include sudden vomiting, diarrhea, loss of balance, a blood pressure drop, a swollen larynx that blocks the airway, seizures, heart failure and death.

Step 3: Call a Vet

Watch your dogs' symptoms. If they get rapidly worse, call your vet and bring the dog to the clinic immediately. Some dogs may progress to severe symptoms within 3 to 5 minutes of being bitten. Anaphylactic shock is life threatening, and emergency treatment is necessary to prevent death. Your vet will try to open the dog's airway by giving him epinephrine and put your dog on life support by giving him oxygen to keep his heart and lungs working. IV fluids may be introduced to increase his blood pressure.

Step 4: Treating Your Dog at Home

If your dog's allergy isn't dangerous enough to warrant a trip to the vet, you can treat your dog at home. Remove any visible stingers or ticks, and put a wet poultice of baking soda on the affected area. Watch your dog for progression of symptoms, and make sure the baking soda poultice stays on for at least 20 minutes. Replace it as necessary. If a tick bit your dog, your vet may have you put a topical antibacterial ointment on the bite and bring the tick in for Lyme disease testing. Make sure the topical antibacterial ointment stays put for as long as possible. The vet may also recommend giving your dog 1 mg per dog lb of Benadryl, an antihistamine.

Following these steps can help you keep your dog healthy and safe if he has an allergic reaction to a bite.