Pet Education

What the “Bug”?! (i.e., Insect Bites and Possible Allergic Reactions in Your Pet)

Insect Bites and Allergic Reactions in Your Pet

By Roubina Honarchian, DVM
Emergency + Critical Care

Days filled with sunshine and beautiful evenings in the summer invite us to spend more time outside along with our pets. But more time outside means higher chances of coming across bugs.

Allergic reactions secondary to insect bites spike during the summer months. From dogs stepping on a bee to cats trying to catch some type of flying insect, these incidents often result in a trip to the emergency room. Often times these incidents are witnessed however there can be occasions when pets are treated for an allergic reaction just given the history and his or her clinical symptoms.

So what’s the big deal?

Should we rush our pets to the ER if we suspect they are stung or bitten by an insect? The short answer is yes. Allergic reactions have a wide spectrum of signs with a wide spectrum of severity. The reaction occurs immediately after the inciting cause and it is often difficult to predict how severe the reaction will be. Thus an evaluation by a veterinary professional, as soon as possible, is recommended to help ensure your pet is stable and remains so.

Mild allergic reactions

Insect bites cause a secondary allergic reaction which may or may not be a significant health risk to our pets however having our pet evaluated is always recommended to ensure our pet is safe. Mild allergic reactions can include pain as well as mild to moderate redness or swelling at the site. Some pets develop hives and can become very itchy and uncomfortable. Mild reactions typically resolve with anti-histamine therapy (Benadryl) and time. However the possibility of a severe, more serious, allergic reaction do exist.

Severe allergic reactions

Severe allergic reactions can cause vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. They can also include respiratory difficulty, significant drops in blood pressure and even collapse. Severe allergic reaction need emergency medical treatment as they can be life threatening if left untreated. More severe reactions could require treatment with a steroid medication, IV fluid therapy and could result in recommended hospitalization for your pet.

These type of allergic reactions have rapid onset of symptoms, which can continue to lead to an evolution of a wide range of clinical symptoms.

So what to do in case of a bug bite?

An encounter with an insect and an allergic reaction is difficult to predict or to prevent. However immediate evaluation and potential treatment can aid in minimizing the signs and severity of the reaction and will help keep your pet safe and comfortable.

Animal Specialty Group

DVM, Emergency + Critical Care

Dr. Roubina Honarchian’s interest in Emergency and Critical Care springs from her deep-seeded concern for love, justice, and animal neglect. Her specific veterinary areas of interest are extensions of those causes: pathology, shelter medicine, and internal medicine are among the veterinary practices she cares about most.