Learn how to recognize the signs of bug bites on dogs, what to do when your pet gets bitten, and how to prevent bites in the first place! Can dogs get bug bites?
When you’re a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to look after your furry friend’s health. Recognizing, preventing, and treating different health ailments are part of being a good pet parent.
With this in mind, it’s important to be aware of different bug bites on dogs - what to look out for, what to do if your dog gets bitten, and how to prevent these pests from snacking on your pooch.
Even if you don’t think that this is a real risk for you and your pet, you need to be prepared in case it becomes a reality. Best case scenario - the bite is only a mild annoyance; worst-case scenario, the insect bite transmits a life-threatening pathogen.
We put together this guide to help educate you on all things bug bites - the signs, what to do if you find yourself in a situation where you are caring for bug bites, as well as how to prevent them in the first place.
If you are noticing a systemic - not local - reaction to an insect bite such as difficulty breathing or full-body hives, take them to the vet immediately as this can be indicative of a severe reaction.
Without further ado, here's a simple pet parents guide to bug bites on dogs!
Signs of Bug Bites on Dogs
“Something bit my dog!” is a pretty scary sentence for any loving pet owner. It’s important to be able to identify the signs of bites on dogs so you can effectively treat them.
When it comes to bug bites on dogs, the initial discomfort is because of their body’s reaction to the proteins in the bug’s saliva or venom. Some pets are naturally more sensitive to these proteins than others, and some can become more sensitive over time based on multiple exposures.
Common bite culprits that might come to mind include bees, spiders, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Unfortunately, since your pet is closer to the ground and closer to grass and shrubbery, they can be particularly susceptible.
Bug bite reactions in dogs vary. In mild cases, it’s just an annoying inconvenience that will heal itself in days if properly treated. In most cases of non-anaphylactic reactions, you might notice some of these common bug bite symptoms:
- redness or swelling at the bite site
- raised bumps
- Chewing or licking
- a swollen face
- difficulty breathing
- excessive drooling
While the worst-case scenario, anaphylaxis, is obviously scary, know that the prognosis for non-serious bites is good and that anaphylactic reactions are rare. If your pet is particularly sensitive to things like pollen and mould, certain foods, or has had severe reactions to insect bites in the past, then they are at increased risk for bad reactions.
Pay attention to whether your dog is scratching or licking themselves more than usual, for any obvious swelling or bite marks, as well as hot spots from repeatedly scratching and biting. Red bug bites on dogs caused by inflammation is quite common.
Naturally, it’s easy to panic when all you can think is “My dog has bug bites all over!” but know that there are options available. When in doubt, ask your trusted vet!
Additionally, we’ll go over some products at the end that you can use at home to help your pet feel better and speed the healing process.
10 Most Common Bug Bites on Dogs
Below we’ll go over some common bug bites on dogs. This list is not comprehensive, but we tried to focus on the types of bugs that are most common in Canada and much of the United States. Make sure you are familiar with any insects that are specific to your area!
1. Spider Bites on Dogs
Spiders conjure up nightmarish horror scenes and strike panic into even the most fearless of us. But luckily, most spider bites in Canada are harmless. Most bites will cause nothing more than itchiness, minor pain, swelling, and redness, and of course, a serious case of the heebie-jeebies.
Still, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for these insect bites on dogs and be prepared if your best furry friend is bitten by a spider.
Most Dangerous Spider Bites on Dogs
Most common spiders that find their way into your house are harmless. They are more likely to scurry away than try to take a bite of you or your dog. However, there are a few spiders species that are dangerous enough to warrant learning how to recognize and avoid them.
Here are the 3 most dangerous spiders in Canada:
Brown Recluse Spiders
The brown recluse’s venom destroys red blood cells and causes local tissue damage around the bite site, making it the most dangerous spider found in Canada.
They aren't native to Canada, and generally don't tolerate our climate well. They are usually accidentally transported into Canada from more tropical environments in products like fruit.
Brown recluse spiders are brown, often with a violin-shaped pattern on it's back, and measure about 8-15 mm in body size with legs from 2-3 cm. They like dark and uninhabited places and are active at night. Most bites happen when the spider is unintentionally disturbed, such as when you or your pet roll over onto them in your sleep.
The venom from a brown recluse spider bite on a dog kills the tissue around the site of the bite, creating a wound that is slow to heal which can increase the risk of secondary infection.
The venom can continue on its way and enter the bloodstream, where it reaches and damages internal organs. If damage is allowed to progress without intervention, it can lead to death.
Black Widow Spiders
Another spider species that are not naturally native to Canada, the black widow often makes its way here in fruit shipments, like grapes. Unfortunately, some species of black widows have established themselves in parts of BC and Southern Ontario, so they are more common than we'd like them to be.
Though black widows are thought to be deadly, they aren't quite as dangerous as most people think. A bite from a black widow is very unpleasant but rarely deadly.
Additionally, black widows are typically not aggressive, and they only attack in defence. As a cannibalistic species, they are much meaner to each other than to mammals that get too close.
When acting defensively, black widows can bite without injecting venom, making it more of a warning bite and a signal to back off.
Though we all have an image of a black widow spider in our heads - a sleek black body with bright red triangles on its back - you may not know that this aesthetic is strictly for females. Males tend to be smaller and have more muted colours, like grey or brown and can feature white stripes instead of the signature red markings.
This spider is the only native Canadian species of spider that can be dangerous to dogs and humans. They are named for their hunting methods. Unlike most spiders that set up webs to trap their prey, wolf spiders hunt down their prey directly by charging them. Yikes!
While they can be a more aggressive species, they typically leave larger mammals, like your dog, alone unless your curious pooch encroaches on their territory.
Though wolf spiders are more common than brown recluse and black widows, they are also the least painful bite of the three. The venom typically only produces mild swelling, redness, and discomfort at the bite site.
Other pests with way too many legs, like centipedes, can also bite. Common centipede that you find Canada are poisonous, but they are carnivores and do bite.
A bite from a centipede is unlikely to cause a serious problem, but may still leave an uncomfortable mark. Treatment for centipede bites are very similar to treatment for a spider bite.
What Do Spider Bites on Dogs Look Like?
So what does a spider bite on a dog look like? The first thing you might notice is some swelling. Spiders usually strike defensively they are agile and quick, so they can strike anywhere on your dog's body that they can reach.
You may find a spider bite on a dog’s face, a spider bite on a dog’s foot, or a spider bite on a dog’s tail. It all depends on how your dog approached the 8 legged pests. Investigate the swollen area thoroughly to find the bite wound and assess the damage.
The wound may be small depending on the size and type of spider that bit your dog, but will often be red, swollen, and have a distinct puncture wound. The more dangerous the venom, the wider spread the reaction. Necrotic venom from the brown recluse spider may cause a larger wound as the venom damages surrounding tissue.
After a bit of time, there might be a white lesion with a dark central scab that can develop into an ulcer that is slow to heal. Less common symptoms include anemia with bloody urine within the first 24 hours and fever with weakness within the first 2-3 days.
However, there might also be no symptoms. It might be a little hard to see with fur in the way, but there might be a bullseye mark where the bite occurred.
How to Treat a Spider Bite on Your Dog
Treating a spider bite from a common house spider in Canada is not much different from treating any other type of basic dog-infected bug bite. You'll need to disinfect the wound as soon as you notice the bite mark.
If you notice your dog has been bitten by a bug, the first thing you should do is clean the wound with warm water and soap. You can also use antibacterial wipes to clean the area around the bite. Be sure to dry the area well.
If the bite is bleeding, you can use a clean cloth to apply pressure to the wound. This will help stop the bleeding. If the bleeding does not stop after a few minutes, or if it is excessive, then you'll need to take your dog to the vet for further treatment.
Once the wound is clean, you can apply a topical antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection. Be sure to follow the directions on the package for how long to leave the ointment on the wound.
You can use topical treatments like coconut oil, or one of our favourite anti-itch products below to help soothe any itch that could cause your dog to lick or scratch the area. This will help to prevent bacteria from irritating the wound while it heals.
As with most health concerns, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If your dog is showing signs of a more severe reaction to the bite, then contact your vet immediately.
If your dog shows any signs of an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, swallowing, or excessive swelling, then you'll need to take them to the vet immediately for treatment. Spider bites are not usually deadly to dogs, but they can be very painful and uncomfortable. With proper treatment, your dog should recover quickly and without any long-term effects.
2. Black Fly Bites On Dogs
Black flies are sometimes also called gnats. (We call them annoying!) You’ll catch black flies swarming around in large groups, and you can find them any time of year.
Luckily, most bites are harmless, and black fly bites on dogs typically don’t carry the same risk of disease transition that bites from ticks and mosquitoes do.
If you notice bites, treating black fly bites on dogs entails washing your pet’s fur gently with warm soapy water and following wound healing recommendations. If you suspect your dog is having an allergic reaction to the bites, call your trusted vet.
Know that black flies like to breed in streams, so be wary if you plan on exploring some streams on your adventures.
What Do Black Fly Bites on Dogs Look Like?
Black fly bites on dogs often look like flat, red splotches. Sometimes this splotch looks like a bullseye because of an outline, but this is not a reliable indicator. They’ll go after exposed areas of your fur baby's body, so you might see black flea bites on dogs belly or black fly bites on your dog’s groin. Though most likely, the first thing you’ll notice is biting and scratching.
When it comes to telling apart black fly vs tick bites on dogs, sometimes people get confused because of the bullseye commonly also associated with ticks. However, this bullseye from ticks actually doesn’t happen in dogs, so if you see a bullseye it is caused by a different insect (like black flies).
The bites themselves look a lot worse than they really are. Black flies will go for areas of your dog's body that has more exposed skin, like their underbelly or the inside of their legs. You'll notice bright red spots, about 1 cm wide.
Other Flies Bites on Dogs
Though black flies are quite common in Canada, especially in more humid climates, they aren't the only type of fly that likes to bite. Here are a few other types of flies in Canada that are likely to nip your pooch:
- Horse Flies
- Deer Flies
- Sand Flies
- Stable Flies
Some of these larger fly species produce especially painful bites. Though the long-term effects are no better or worse than black fly bites, the bite itself is likely going to get a significant reaction out of your pet.
The real risk with fly bites in dogs is the risk of secondary infection from scratching or licking the itchy wound. The bigger the bite, or the more inflamed it is, the itchier and more uncomfortable it will be.
Additionally, common house flies like to lay their eggs in open wounds, so if the bite isn't properly treated, your pooch could end up hatching some creepy crawlies in his skin. (Do yourself a favour, don't google image search this one, it's... unsettling.)
Maggots on Dogs
Different species of flies like to lay eggs in skin wounds. This is known as a maggot infestation. Maggots on dogs happen when eggs are laid in a wound or around an infected wound, and the larvae hatch and invade the surrounding tissue.
You might see the maggots themselves in a sore or wound, along with raised, red sores near the site. Unfortunately, the site (known as the “strike site”) can attract other flies and house maggots from more than one type of fly.
You might wonder to yourself, “How do I get rid of maggots on a dog? What kills maggots on a dog?!” But don’t panic, there are solutions.
Treating maggot infestations is a two-pronged solution. You need to kill the maggots with antiparasitic medications from your vet, and you need to treat the wounds to close them and prevent new eggs from being deposited.
Moving forward, routine bathing and grooming are essential, since urine and feces that collect in fur attract flies. Make sure all garbage, organic plant matter, and poop are routinely removed from your yard. Standing water attracts flies so make sure that this is taken care of as well.
How to Treat Black Fly Bites on Your Dog
The sooner you recognize black fly bites, the sooner you can start treating them. Black flies often swarm pets, so you may be treating a cluster of bites instead of just one. Because of the risk of maggots in an open wound, it's important to keep the bite wounds clean and help them heal quickly.
Because these small flies go for the tenderest areas of your dog's body, the skin least protected by fur will be the itchiest. Controlling the itch and healing the skin will be key. Coconut oil or aloe is a great way to moisturize the skin and cut the itch.
3. Ant Bites on Dogs
Like most insect bites, ant bites on dogs are never fun and can range from mild to severe. Your fur baby’s immune system reacts with their venom, which can cause swelling and pain in mild reactions and anaphylaxis on the severe end.
Since your pet is on their feet and leads with his nose, it’s common to see ant bites on dog paws and ant bites on dog mouths where they are likely to come in direct contact. Common ant bites on dogs symptoms include difficulty walking due to bites on paws, hives, chewing or licking at the area, and swelling.
While not all ant bite cases are a reason to go to the vet, you should be extra cautious if your pet has had bad reactions in the past and is hypersensitive to other insect bites. Look out for signs of a more serious reaction such as vomiting, collapse, weakness, and difficulty breathing.
Ants are likely all over your dog's normal environment, so it's quite impossible to always avoid them, but it is a good idea to know how to recognize signs of ant nests and colonies so that you can keep your dog at a safe distance.
Even when they aren't attacking your pooch, ants can still be a huge nuisance if you have pets. As scavengers, they are drawn to loose food. This means that your dog's food and treats are an ideal target.
Learn how to deter ants from snacking on your dog's dinner in Bugs in Dry Dogs Food: Preventing Infestations and Eliminating Pests.
What Do Ant Bites on a Dog Look Like?
As one of the smaller pests on our list, ant bites are often small, and can easily be missed if your dog isn't showing any signs of discomfort, but different species of ants can give varying degrees of painful bites.
Here are some of the common types of ants in Canada and the types of bites you can expect from them:
Common House Ants
Typical these little black or brown ants are pretty unlikely to bite unless your dog disturbs their colonies. Most common house ants aren't even strong enough to pierce your dog's skin, and for those that can, the bites are often not very painful.
This doesn't mean they don't post a risk to your pooch. While a single house ant bite may not be painful and will only leave a small bump behind, several hundred bites from a swarm of ants could leave your dog very itchy.
What about fire ants? Do they bite or sting?
Yes. Though some ants are known for their unpleasant bites, fire ants have a nasty habit of stinging their prey too, and that sting is very painful.
In fact, fire ants both bite and sting when disturbed. Their mandibles are used to latch onto the skin and pierce it, leaving a target for the needle-like stinger to inject the venom.
Severe symptoms of fire ant attacks usually show up within 6 hours, though initial discomfort can be seen immediately. You might notice drooling, eye discharge, incontinence, other digestive symptoms, and even trouble walking.
These ants come from warmer or tropical areas, they can find the heat and moisture they need in some parts of Canada by burrowing near buildings.
Though not particularly aggressive, pharaoh ants can bite or sting, though they rarely do any serious damage unless they attack in a large swarm.
How to Treat Ant Bites on Dog
No matter what kind of ant bites your pup, don’t spray them with water as this will cause the ants to cling on harder. Brush them off, wash your pet’s wounds well with pet-safe soap to disinfect the bites.
One or two small bites will often go completely unnoticed, but several or even dozens may require an anti-itch treatment to keep your dog from scratching himself raw.
If the bites are painful, it can help to apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and monitor them for worsening conditions. If more severe symptoms present themselves, then it's time to call the vet.
4. Bed Bugs on Dogs
Ahh, bed bugs… Everyone’s favourite. The answer to the question you were about to ask, “Do bed bugs bite dogs?” is yes, yes they do.
Bed bugs on dogs are flat pests about the length of an apple seed and like to hide in crevices, such as in bedding.
We typically associate bed bugs with Grimey motels, but the truth is that no one is completely safe. Bed bugs get their nutrition from warm-blooded animals - AKA you and your pooch. Bed bugs will bite onto your dog, feed, and then release themselves, so it’s not too likely you’ll actually see any bed bugs on dogs, nor do bed bugs live on dogs.
However, if you are worried about your dog carrying bed bugs on them and spreading them to you and your house, you should be. One female bed bug can hitchhike on your pooch’s fur or you can bring one home on your pant cuff and BAM - an infestation is born.
Luckily, it isn’t too common for them to transmit diseases as some other insects do. However, bed bug bites on dogs can cause extreme itch and discomfort, which can lead to secondary wounds from scratching and subsequent infections, as well as a lot of stress!
What do Bed Bug Bites Look Like on Dogs?
Bed bugs bites on dogs are often small red welts or itchy lesions, which sometimes get mistaken for flea or mosquito bites. They’ll sometimes be in a line or cluster. Bed bugs on dogs seek out heat so you will likely find bed bug bites on dogs' bellies or limbs.
Excessive itching will likely be the first indicator that something’s up. You might also see some suspicious translucent shed exoskeletons laying around, along with black spots that smear when you try to clean them (bed bug droppings) or bloodstains on bedding.
How to Treat Bed Bug Bites On Dogs
Bed bug infestations can be tricky to get rid of once you know you have them. The first thoughts that come to mind are probably going to be how to treat bed bugs on dogs, or more specifically, How to treat bug bites on dogs.
Some topical anti-itch treatments can help bring your pooch some comfort while you eradicate the blood-sucking pests from your home.
Since bed bugs on dogs only stay on your pup while they’re eating or hitchhiking you don’t need anything for your furry friend except a nice bath and an anti-itch shampoo, like Tropiclean OxyMed Anti-Itch Medicated Shampoo.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs on Dogs
You’ll want to clean all of your bedding in hot water, all of your pet’s toys and accessories, scrub all of the surfaces that they like to lounge in, and vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Target crevices and soft surfaces especially.
You’ll then need to treat your home with a bed bug product that will kill any remaining pests. Diatomaceous Earth, like Thrive Diatmoceous Earth, can be used to deter bed bugs but isn't always as effective as lice-specific treatments.
You need to be patient, as this is an ongoing process that you don’t want to only do halfway. A bed bug can go months without feeding and can fit into crevices the width of a credit card.
Learn more about how to safely use Diatomaceous Earth for all kinds of pest problems in What is Diatomaceous Earth for Dogs.
5. Mites on Dogs
What are mites on dogs? Mites refer to a number of different microscopic parasitic organisms. You might hear of grass mites on dogs, harvest mites on dogs, and oak mite bites on dogs. They’re usually less than 1 mm in length, meaning they can be easy to miss. (Dun, dun, dun.)
They can’t fly but don’t celebrate just yet. They make great hitchhikers and can reproduce very quickly. They spend their entire 17-21 day lives on the host, so that's a lot of time to reproduce and spread.
If the mite infestation lasts long enough without treatment, they can cause mange.
What is Mange?
Mange is a disease caused by unchecked mite infestations. When the mites are able to populate quickly, they spread across your dog's body and start feasting.
Female mites burrow into your dog's skin and lay eggs. A full-blown infestation leads to extreme and often full-body skin damage as the little pests eat away at the top layers of skin.
Mange can be challenging to get rid of as it often causes several other skin issues, like bacterial infections, hair loss, and insane itchiness. There are two types of mange that are common in dogs: Sarcoptic Mange and Demodectic Mange.
You might hear mange referred to as canine scabies. This is referring to sarcoptic mange. This type of mange is highly contagious to other dogs and even to humans, so it's always best to treat mites quickly before mange develops and spreads.
Sarcoptic mange spreads fast and does significant skin damage that can take weeks, even months to heal, depending on the severity of the skin damage. If you suspect your dog has mange, contact your vet immediately for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
This type of mange is also caused by an infestation of mites, but a different kind of mites. These mites are always present on your dog's skin and are a natural part of the ecosystem that is their body. Generally, a healthy dog can easily keep these mites at bay, but a compromised or sick pet may not be able to control the mite population.
While the discomfort from demodectic mange is similar to sarcoptic, the mites can be a little easier to treat if you can boost your dog's immune system. It's not uncommon for dogs to get small patches of demodectic mange that heal naturally if you strengthen their immune response.
Additionally, demodectic mange isn't contagious to you or other pets because a normal immune system can easily prevent them from populating.
Mange is diagnosed through a skin scraping test performed by your veterinarian. Treatment usually involves a combination of topical medications, oral medications, and/or medicated baths.
In severe cases, your dog may need to be hospitalized for treatment.
Mange is a serious condition, but it’s also highly treatable. If you think your dog has mange, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away.
What Do Mites Look Like on Dogs?
So what do mites look like on a dog? Mites are too small to see, but you can still see the destruction they leave behind. Mites often leave behind droppings that cause this initial itchiness, which might be visible on shorter-haired dogs, or on areas of your dog where the skin is more visible, like ears.
The skin might start presenting with small solid bumps that look like goosebumps. Your pet then scratches and licks the bumps which will turn them into sores.
When your pet keeps scratching and opening these sores, they can get infections. Over time if left untreated, they can develop oily dandruff and thickened skin with crust buildup, along with oozing sores. Yikes!
If your pooch recently got infested by mites, you might notice a sudden onset of intense itching. Mites can attack any part of your dog's body, but love ears because they are warm, moist, and dark.
Ear Mites in Dogs
Ear mites in dogs cause another kind of mange that happens on the external ear and can inflame the ear canal in dogs. What do ear mites look like in dogs? You might notice the symptoms of ear mites in dogs before you notice the mites themselves.
Signs of ear mites in dogs include scratching the ears and shaking the head. Ears that are usually upright might also droop.
With all of this info, you might be wondering about home remedies for ear mites in dogs, as well as how to treat ear mites in dogs at home. What’s the best way to get rid of mites on dogs?
Common home treatments for ear mites in dogs might include apple cider vinegar for mites on dogs, mineral oil, and diatomaceous earth for mites on dogs. There’s also ivermectin for ear mites in dogs that can help get rid of the parasites.
How to Treat Mite Bites in Dogs
Standard dog bug bite treatment can help to reduce the itch, but the only way to get rid of your dog's discomfort is to get rid of the mites. The longer they stick around the more damage they will do to your dog's skin.
Mites are not the easiest things to kill, so talk to your vet about appropriate medications to rid your dog of mites. Ear mite medications can be found at your local pet store, but bigger infestations like mange need more aggressive treatment from your vet.
Did you know cats are actually more prone to ear mites than dogs? Find out more about ear mites in Easy Home Remedies to Treat Ear Mites in Cats.
6. Fleas on Dogs
Fleas send shivers down any pet lover’s spine. Fleas feed on your pooch’s blood and leave tiny raised nodules behind that itch and stay inflamed for weeks. Some poor dogs are more sensitive than others and can be sent into itchy misery after just one bite.
It doesn’t take much for an infestation to take hold in your home. All it takes is one flea to hop onto your furry friend and you’re in for the long haul.
If you notice your pet scratching or licking themselves more than usual, it might be time to check them for fleas. Fleas like dark humid areas, like the neck, ears, lower abdomen, and tail base. Because of their small size and dark colour, they can be hard to spot, so the fleas themselves likely won’t be the first sign. They also typically only stay on their host to feed.
What Do Flea Bites on Dogs Look Like?
Look for clusters of bite marks, as well as “flea dirt” that turns from brown to red once it is wet by a paper towel. Scabs might pop up from repeated scratching and biting, and if your pet keeps reopening them it could lead to secondary infections and complications. They might also start losing hair in those areas.
Pets that are particularly sensitive can develop flea allergy dermatitis. If they end up swallowing a flea infected by a tapeworm, they can also develop tapeworms. Luckily tapeworms usually don’t cause immediate harm and can be treated with medication by your vet.
If you’re able to confirm that your furbaby has fleas, you need to make sure that your home is completely free of them so you don’t prolong the misery. If you aren’t thorough and end up missing a few, it can cause a whole new infestation.
Clean crevices carefully, and wash all bedding several times in hot water over the next few weeks. Dispose of vacuum bags in sealed bags outside immediately.
How to Treat Flea Bites On Dogs
Flea shampoos as well as diatomaceous earth can help rid your pet’s fur of fleas, which can be used alongside anti-itch treatments. A flea comb can help you make sure you don’t leave any pesky bugs behind.
Once the fleas are gone, you can continue to treat the bites by keeping them clean and by using anti-itch treatments as needed to keep your pet from scratching the wounds open.
Whatever you do, make sure that your home is treated for fleas too. The last thing you need is to start another infestation right after your pet had started to heal!
For more information, check out our blog Ultimate Guide to Fleas on Dogs: Signs, Treatments, and Prevention!
7. Tick Bites on Dogs
Let’s talk about ticks. Ick!
Ticks come around in warmer months and like to feed on the blood of their host, which can include you and your pup.
Ticks will usually cling on close to the head, neck, feet, and ears. You’ll be able to spot them if you look. Their bites aren’t usually painful, but they can carry diseases such as Lyme disease and parasites.
As soon as you see a tick on your pet, you should remove it as soon as possible to prevent disease transmission.
It’s important not to leave the head of the tick behind. You’ll want to take a pair of tweezers and get them as close to your pup’s skin as possible, pulling in a straight motion.
If you want to be really sure you got it all, bring Fido to the vet. Either way, it’s smart to bring the removed tick to the vet so it can get tested for disease and to discuss the next steps.
What Do Tick Bites Look Like on Dogs?
Tick bites are usually unique from other pest bites for two reasons. This is because ticks burrow into the skin to feed, so the bite usually still has a tick in it. You may be able to see the tick's body sticking out, or the tick can fully burrow into the skin, leaving a hard, raised bump.
In cases of lime disease, you will see a large red circle with a red ring around it, like a bullseye. If you see this marking, you should take your pet to the vet quickly for appropriate treatment.
There are some tick prevention medications that you can look into. Ask your vet what they recommend. As for prevention, it’s always a good idea to mow your lawn regularly and remove tall weeds so you can get rid of any tick hiding places.
How to Treat Tick Bites on Dogs
Because ticks are one of the larger pests that like to burrow into the skin, they can leave behind a bigger hole than other smaller pests. This means that it's especially important to keep the wound clean.
Disinfecting the wound is step one, and you should continue to keep the wound clean while it heals over the next few days. Coconut oil can be used on the wound once the skin has closed to help soothe the itch and speed healing.
For more info on ticks on dogs, check out our blog Ticks On Dogs: Complete Guide to Tick Prevention on Dogs.
8. Lice Bites on Dogs
Lice are small, flightless bugs that can live in your pet’s hair (and yours, for that matter). Lice feed on skin debris, secretions, and blood. (Nice.)
Lice eggs are called nits, and they’re glued to the hairs near the skin of their hosts. Unfortunately, you can’t get rid of them with just a simple bath.
You’ll need a fine-toothed comb to dislodge nits, as well as treatments to kill live lice. It’s a tedious process, but don’t skimp on it! You don’t want to miss any and have to deal with it all over again. Dispose of all collected lice, dead and alive, in a sealed container.
Treat any other pets that have come into contact with your infested pooch as if they had lice too. Make sure that you wash all of your pet’s bedding and accessories thoroughly in hot water, and treat them with the appropriate sprays.
What do Lice Bites on Dogs Look Like?
As with most insect bites, oftentimes the first sign of a problem is scratching and biting. There might be small wounds from the bites that can become infected. You can diagnose lice by seeing the lice themselves, or seeing their eggs in your pet’s fur.
The bites themselves are not always evident until they become more inflamed from your dog's scratching or licking the bites, but you may see small red bumps.
How to Treat Lice Bites on Dogs
Lice bites will typically heal on their own, but it doesn't hurt to use a disinfectant treatment, like colloidal silver spray or Neosporin, to keep the bites from getting infected.
Preventing your dog from licking or scratching the bites can be done with a cone collar if your dog is extra persistent.
For more information, check out our blog Lice on Dogs: Tips for Safely Delousing Your Itchy Dog!
9. Mosquitos Bites on Dogs
Mosquitoes are more than just annoying pests – they can also transmit diseases such as heartworm to your beloved pet.
Fortunately, mosquito bites on dogs aren’t as common as you might think. Dogs are less likely to be bitten by mosquitoes because of their fur coat.
That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, though. If your dog has a bald spot or is missing patches of fur, they may be more susceptible to mosquito bites.
These flying nuisances are practically unavoidable during the spring and summer months, so despite your best efforts, you are likely going to be dealing with a few mosquito bites on your dog. (and yourself!)
Mosquitos are blood-sucking pests that will feed on any available warm-blooded animal. Their needle-like mouths easily penetrate the skin.
What do Mosquito Bites on Dogs Look Like?
You are probably already familiar with a mosquito bite or two, or twenty, on yourself, and the results are quite similar in dogs. Round, raised, and irritated bumps form at the bite site, leading to an insatiable itch.
The more your dog licks and scratches to try to soothe the itch, the bigger and more irritated the bites can get. They can get infected if not treated properly, leading to even further irritation and skin damage.
For dogs that are particularly sensitive to bug bites, the red lumps could lead to swelling, hives, or even anaphylaxis, so preventing mosquito bites for these pets is extra important.
Mosquitos are known for causing unbearable itchiness, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. While the mosquito bites might be annoying, the risks of greater harm are in the potential diseases or parasites they could be carrying.
Check out Treating Mosquito Bites on Dogs and find out how to protect your pet from these annoying summer pests.
One of the most fatal parasites known to dogs, heartworms are spread predominantly through mosquito bites, so appropriate heartworm prevention aids from your vet are recommended in high-risk areas, like southern Ontario.
Heartworm larvae are transmitted when mosquitos bite your dog and work their way through the bloodstream to the heart and lungs. They continue to develop into full-grown worms that block arteries and damage organ function.
Heartworms are deadly if not treated, but to make matters worse, symptoms of heartworms are hard to spot, and sometimes non-existent, until the worms have done serious damage.
Preventing heartworms is always easier than treating them, so ask your vet about the best preventative methods.
Though not as dangerous as heartworms, tapeworms can also be transmitted through mosquito bites. Tapeworms live in the digestive tract for a long time if not caught.
Tapeworms infestations are also not too easy to spot until they are well-established in your dog's gut, so regular deworming routines can help to prevent tapeworms. The most obvious way to identify tapeworms in dogs is through your dog's stool.
Tapeworms have segmented bodies, and as they grow will shed the end segments routinely. These small sections of the worm's body are passed through your dog's stool and you will be able to spot what looks like small grains of rice.
Learn more about tapeworms and other common parasites in dogs in our blog - Worm in Dogs: Treating Intestinal Parasites in Your Dog.
10. Bee Stings on Dogs
Even though we are talking about bug bites on dogs, some pests don't bite, they sting. The results can be just as unpleasant and painful though. Stings from insects can be prevented and treated very similarly to bug bites.
Every once in a while a curious pup sticks their face in a pretty flower, only to be met by a bee. It happens. The classic image is a dog with a puffy face, but they’re also prone to bee stings on their paws (or anywhere they come into contact with those jerks).
What do Bee Stings on Dogs Look Like?
The effects of a bee sting can range from mild to severe. If your pet has a history of more severe reactions, take them to the vet immediately as the situation can be life-threatening.
In mild cases, they’ll skate by with just a bit of swelling or pain in the sting area. If you notice full-body hives, diarrhea, vomiting, struggling to catch their breath or if they collapse, this could be a sign of anaphylaxis and they should be taken in immediately.
If you see a stinger and are feeling confident, you can scrape it out or use tweezers. You can neutralize some of the venoms with baking soda and water and should apply a cool compress to help with swelling and pain.
Even without a stinger present, the area around the puncture can be red, swollen, and itchy. Topical treatments to clean and soothe the area may need to be reapplied until the irritation subsides.
For more information, check out our blog How to Prevent and Treat Bee Stings On Dogs!
Wasps and Hornets
Wasps and hornets are other flying pests that might be unhappy with your dog's nosey behaviour. Unlike bees, wasps and hornets are more aggressive by nature and have the ability to sting your dog repeatedly, so they can do a lot more damage if your dog gets too close.
Treatment of the sting wound is the same as with bees, though wasp and hornet stings may be a little more painful. Reducing the inflammation and disinfecting the wound will help speed the healing and limit discomfort.
Home Treatments for Bug Bites On Dogs
Lots of bug bites on dogs can be easily treated at home. Once you've identified the type of pest that has infiltrated your dog, you can choose treatments to clean, soothe, and evict the pests from your dog's body.
Here are some of our favourite products for treating bug bites on dogs:
Wound and Infection Treatments
The first step to treating bug bites on dogs is a disinfectant treatment to remove bacteria and other debris from the bite site. For serious wounds, or bites that have become infected, you need to contact your vet for appropriate treatment, but minor bites can easily be treated at home. Try one of these products:
Thrive Silver Shield
Silver is one of nature's most effective antiseptics. It has natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties that can be used to disinfect any small wounds without stinging or drying out the skin.
Thrive Silver Shield is an easy spray-on silver mixture that is safe for use on dogs, and even lick safe.
Naturpet Healing Spray
This naturopathic wound treatment relies on the natural disinfectant properties of echinacea and goldenseal root to prevent bacteria from infiltrating the wound. Natuvet Skin Aid Spray is more than an antiseptic, but can also help to topically reduce some of the swelling at the site of the bite.
True Leaf Natural Response Topical Gel
Another natural wound and infection topical treatment, True Leaf Natural Response Gel uses pet-safe ingredients like olive oil and honey to eliminate harmful bacteria and help kickstart the healing process of the bite.
Most minor bug bites on dogs heal on their own, but your dog's licking and scratching can introduce new bacteria and cause further irritation that makes the bite worse.
By combining an anti-itch treatment with the wound care treatment, you can prevent the bites from driving your dog nuts and keep them from worsening. Here are a few options to reduce your dog's itch and kickstart the healing process:
Skout's Honor Probiotic Itch Relief
Not all bacteria are bad. In fact, healthy bacteria is an excellent way to keep itch-causing bacteria naturally at bay. Skout's Honor Probiotic Itch Relief will not only reduce itchiness but can help to fight off bacteria that can slow the healing process.
Tropiclean OxyMed Anti-Itch Medicated Spray
For itchiness, consider products like or Tropiclean OxyMed Anti-Itch Medicated Spray to help soothe skin quickly. The soothing nature of oatmeal helps ditch the itch, while vitamin E helps to heal damaged skin faster.
Acorn Pet Calm Paws Calming E-Collar
Sometimes the itch is just too great, so the best way to prevent your dog from fussing over a bug bite is to keep them from being able to reach it. The Acorn Pet Calm Paws E-Collar is a safe and effective way to help small wounds heal without your dog interfering with the process.
Pest Control Treatments
While many of the topical treatments above can help deal with the bite, they won't get rid of the pests that are driving your pet crazy. Specific treatments for some of the more persistent pests can be helpful in eliminating pests and preventing further infestations.
Bayer K9 Advantix
Monthly treatments, like Bayer K9 Advantix II Topical Flea & Tick Protection, are designed to prevent flea, tick, and other pests from latching onto your pooch, but they are also effective at killing off any pests that have already set up shop.
It's called a flea and tick treatment, but it works on so many more pests like lice and mosquitos
Zodiac Flea & Tick Spray
This fast-acting spray kills adult fleas and ticks and has growth inhibitors to prevent eggs from completing their maturation cycle. Zodiac Flea & Tick Spray can be used monthly for preventative treatment, or weekly to deal with recurring infestations.
Preventing Bug Bites on Dogs
If you're wondering how to cure bug bites on dogs, you've probably found a lot of great answers in this blog post. Once you've gotten that solved, it's time to think about preventing bug bites on dogs in the first place.
You've probably heard "an ounce of prevention is cheaper than a pound of cure" and that's especially true here! While you may not be able to prevent every type of bug bite from happening, you can reduce the risk of your best furry friend getting bitten.
The best way to prevent bug bites on dogs is to use a bug repellent made specifically for animals. These products usually contain natural ingredients that are safe for use on dogs. You can find bug repellents for dogs that help prevent bug bites on dogs in the first place.
Another way to prevent bug bites is to keep your dog away from areas where bugs are commonly found, such as tall grasses or wooded areas. If you're out walking your dog in an area where bugs are present, be sure to check them regularly for any signs of bites.
Don't forget to make sure your dog is up-to-date on their vaccinations. This will help reduce the risk of them contracting a serious disease from a bug bite.
Additionally, consider the pest control treatments above to really help prevent bug bites on dogs.
Best Preventative Treatments for Pests on Dogs
Some bugs need an extra deterrent to stay away from your pet. Bug sprays for people often contain toxic ingredients that aren't even good for us, no less our pets, so a pet-safe protectant from pests is a great idea if your dog is an outdoor adventurer. Here are a few of the best ways to tell bugs to buzz off:
Products like Citrobug Insect Hunt made from essential oils can help keep flies, mosquitos, and other flying pests away. Simply spray it on like a bug spray each time to venture into the wild.
Baie Run Diatomaceous Earth
Baie Run Diatomaceous Earth can help treat mites and fleas at home by destroying their exoskeletons, leading to total body dehydration. The finely ground powder can be sprinkled onto your pet's coat to make your dog an inhospitable environment for any pests that get curious.
Pet-Tek Paw Balm
The Pet-Tek Paw Balm can help not only repel insects but heal damaged skin and protect them from infection. Think of it like an invisible boot that keeps pests from attacking your dog's paws. This is especially useful against ants and spiders that aren't looking for a feast, just a fight.
If your dog is in pain, you can give them over-the-counter pain medication designed for dogs. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package for the correct dosage based on your dog's weight.
You should also keep an eye on the wound for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. If you notice any of these signs, then take your dog to the vet immediately.
Don’t Hesitate to ‘Bug’ Your Vet!
There’s no doubt that insect bites are a real pest for everyone involved. Luckily, most insect bites are mild and don’t need immediate medical care. There are at-home options to care for and treat bug bites and providing relief so that you and your fur baby can go back to your adventures in no time!
Bug bites on dogs can range from being a mere annoyance to causing serious health complications. If you think your dog has been bitten by a bug, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
Home remedies can be a great way to soothe bug bites on dogs. Homes Alive has a wide range of pest control products for pets that can help, including bug bite sprays, topical treatments, and even oral supplements.
Treating bug bites on dogs is usually a simple matter of cleansing the wound and applying an anti-itch cream or ointment.
As with any concern with your pet’s health, sometimes the best path forward is to seek professional help. In more severe cases, you may need to provide your dog with oral medication or bring them in for a vet visit. When in doubt, it’s always best to check in with your vet, especially if your pet has a history of sensitivities or more severe reactions. They’ll be able to give you the best advice and after-care instructions.
Check out Homes Alive Pets first aid and pest remedies for all of our at-home options!
Which seasonal pests are bugging your dog? Share your tips and tricks for treating and preventing bug bites on dogs in the comments below!