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Bites, Stings and Other Poisons

Summer is a great time for exploring! As your family ventures outdoors for picnics, hikes and visits to new vistas, here are a few things to remember about the troubles an inquisitive pet can encounter if it decides to play with an exciting new insect, or a snake, or a spider, or maybe a toad!

The stings of bees, wasps, hornets or ants may produce local inflammation and pain, particularly if the insect stings your pet on the stomach, feet, nose or inside the mouth. The inflammation from a single sting will probably subside within an hour, but severe allergic reactions may be caused if your pet is stung multiple times, especially by insects that leave their stingers imbedded in their victims. Removing the stinger is a good idea, and you may apply a paste of baking soda and water to the sting or bite to relieve itching. In most cases, recovery from a sting is a sure thing, but if your pet is having trouble
breathing, begins to wheeze or vomit, becomes weak or unconscious – get to the veterinarian immediately for best chances of recovery.

Snake bites tend to occur on the head or neck of a dog or cat and may affect your pet’s heart and lungs and/or its nervous system. If the snake is not poisonous, or the venom was not injected, the pain and swelling of a snake bite should be minimal. Bites involving poisonous snakes or bites to the trunk of the body can be much more serious. You should be able to recognize a snake bite from the small puncture wounds, and bleeding, bruising and swelling at the site of the bite. Venom from pit vipers causes the flesh around the bite to degenerate. Other symptoms may take hours to appear and include lethargy and weakness, muscle tremors, nausea, vomiting and depressed breathing. Try to identify the snake. Keep your pet still. Do not open the wound or utilize a tourniquet. Do not apply ice to the area of the bite. Take the pet to your veterinarian! According to the statistics, animals bitten by pit vipers who received speedy veterinary care have a 99 percent recovery rate. If untreated, mortality rates range from 10 percent to 35 percent.

Bites from poisonous spiders can affect different areas of the body in different ways, depending on the spider. Death from spider bites comes from respiratory or cardiovascular failure following severe muscle pain and abdominal rigidity. Cats are severely sensitive to the venom of black widow spiders and will show signs of severe pain, drooling, restlessness and paralysis. You should try to identify the spider, and seek the care of your veterinarian. Antivenin for black widow spider bites is available and may improve the chances for survival.

Some salamanders and toads secrete poisonous venom and a dog or cat “playing” with such an animal may be exposed to the toxin through its mouth. There have also been reports of toxicity’s resulting from toads sitting in a pet’s water dish. Signs of contact with this type of venom are head shaking, drooling, pawing at the mouth, retching or vomiting. The pet’s mouth should be flushed with large amounts of water
and this is best done under anesthesia, so you should take your pet to the veterinarian if it “wrangles” with a toad and shows these signs. Except in the case of certain toads, the chances for recovery are good.

This, and more detailed information on creatures your pet might find intriguing, – and dangerous – is available on the internet at www.peteducation.com.