Ant bites on dogs can be concerning.
When the sun finally begins to feel warm and bright, you know that spring is just around the corner. Both you and your furry friend will finally be able to enjoy the outdoors for extended periods of time again.
Unfortunately, the warm weather also means the reappearance of plants, animals, and insects. One of the most common sights to see while walking your dog is an anthill. Anywhere there is a crack in the sidewalk, driveway, or yard, an anthill is sure to appear. Typically, ants keep to themselves. They are focused on working and providing food for their colony. Ants are not concerned with you or your dog until you disturb their nest.
Consider the following scenario: it’s a warm summer day. You and your dog take a walk to the dog park. The park is an expansive green space with plenty of room to run and play with other dogs. Unbeknownst to you, there is a large fire ant mound hiding within the tall grass in the far corner of the park. Just as your dog jumps up to catch the ball you tossed, he lands right on the anthill. The ants presume this unknown creature to be an enemy of their colony and attack. Suddenly, your dog has dozens of ants on his legs, face, and stomach biting and stinging him.
What do you do now? First, if your dog is still covered in ants, quickly brush them off his fur. Next, make sure they don’t start biting you! Then, take your dog to a safe location and look for certain symptoms listed below.
In order be sure that ants have bitten your dog, be aware of the key symptoms:
- Swelling at the location of the bite
- Anaphylactic shock, which is an allergic reaction that causes the throat to swell and causes difficulty breathing
- Your dog is licking or biting the area
- Your dog is whimpering, barking, or holding up a sore paw
If your dog has not gone into anaphylactic shock or had a serious reaction to the ant bites, then you can probably treat him at home. Be sure to contact a local veterinarian just to be sure.
There are several at-home remedies that can be used for treatment. Applying ice to the bite areas will help to calm the swelling and alleviate some of the pain. If an ice pack isn’t enough, you can also run a bath with cold water for your dog to sit in. You can also add Epsom salt to the water to help prevent infection, or oatmeal to calm the itching.
There are certain household products that you can apply directly to the dog’s skin. Calamine lotion can prevent your dog from itching the bite locations. A mixture of baking soda and water is also an option. The calamine lotion or baking soda can be applied several times per day. Other remedies include putting a drop of milk of magnesia or apple cider vinegar to the bites.
Of course, with any of these remedies, make sure that you watch your dog so that they do not lick off the treatment. You don’t want them getting sick from ingesting the product.
There are over-the-counter medications that veterinarians recommend when your dog has an allergic reaction to ant bites, or any other irritant. Diphenhydramine, commonly called Benadryl, can be taken orally. This is an antihistamine and is meant to reduce swelling, itching, and rashes. Speak with your veterinarian before providing your dog any medications. You’ll want to ensure that this method is appropriate for their reaction to the ant bite and that they are receiving the correct dosage.
After you have treated your dog, monitor their behavior and the bite areas. Watch your dog to prevent them from licking off the topical treatment. You will also want to make sure they are not continuing to itch the bites. This will only make the bites worse and prolong their symptoms.
If your dog goes into anaphylactic shock, or has an extreme reaction to the ant bites, it is best to see the veterinarian immediately. Other concerning reactions include seizures, diarrhea, collapsing, or a high distress level. Another reason for visiting the veterinarian is if the bites are located on the face near their nose, eyes, or mouth and are preventing normal function. The doctor will have the equipment and medication needed to treat your dog.
A trip to the veterinarian usually isn’t cheap. Most people cringe when thinking about relying on professionals to care for their dog. However, sometimes there is not other choice. If you have pet insurance, you can rest easy knowing that the treatment for ant bites will be covered.
Depending upon the coverage you select, the costs of veterinary care are alleviated with pet insurance. You can purchase a comprehensive policy that includes costs savings for regular visits and vaccinations, accidents and emergencies, ongoing illnesses, prescriptions, and medical testing. Or, you can choose a less expensive plan that only covers certain incidents.