While we are typically roasty, toasty here in Florida, the spring thaw is in full swing so the snow around the country is melting, grass is getting greener, walks are getting longer, and bugs are on the prowl!
While bug bites are a pain for humans, they can be just as annoying for dogs too.
Depending on where you live, fire ants can cause a big issue for you and your sweet pup. While we do our best to avoid fir ants, accidents do happen and you can walk through a hill and then be bitten.
Us, humans, wear shoes while on walks and know what fire ant mounds looks like, but your dog doesn’t know what their mounds look like and they have no protection on their feet. If they walk through a fire ant hill, they will be disturbing these aggressive ants, and there will likely be an attack on their unprotected paws. Unfortunately, we know of dogs that have been extra curious and have sniffed up fire ants while stumbling across a hill.
Years ago, while out playing with Kemper in a big field, his leash slipped out of my hand. He took this opportunity to have some extra fun and go running all over, with me running to and away form him, hoping to get him back. Instead he ran really far away and on his run back to me, his leash got snagged on the property fence. Poor thing was stuck, in trouble, and worst of all standing directly on top of a fire ant hill. A MASSIVE FIRE ANT HILL. I tried to get his leash off the fence but it was really stuck, so the only way for me to get him lose was to unclip him, leaving it behind. But while all of this fumbling around was happening, we were both getting bitten. His poor paws and my poor feet were all covered with ants. The walk back to the car was really uncomfortable with all thsoe ants on our feet. As I scolding him on the walk, I picked ants off on him and myself.
Besides, my own issues with fire ants, my father walked through a hill one night while wearing flip flops. His extremely swollen feet covered in blisters required a trip to the DR, where he needed to get 3 prescriptions to properly treat the bites. If a human can have such a bad reaction, so can a dog. It’s always important to closely
Now, I am extra aware of fir ant mounds and how to properly care of myself and dogs, if accidental contact happened, resulting bites.
WHAT TO DO WHEN FIRE ANTS BITE
- Carefully pick off Fire Ants. Check between toes, folds in skin, jowls, nostrils, ears- depending on where the contact occurred.
- Create a salve with water and baking soda to apply to the bites. Baking Soda’s alkalinity has a cooling effect and will neutralize the acid of the bug bite. Let it sit for 10 minutes prior to washing away
- Apply a cold compress to the bites. Do not directly apply the ice pack on the skin, use a towel between the skin and ice pack.
- Applying aloe to the skin can help soothe the itchiness, but you need to make sure your dog does not lick it up as they should not ingest aloe.
- If your dog is prone to medical reactions already, give them an antihistamine, like Benadyl. Consult with your vet prior to giving to your dog, to verify it is needed and an accurate dose is provided.
- Closely monitor your dog for any excessive swell, rashes, or breathing issues immediately following the bites. As well, long term supervision may be required depending on the reaction of the bites.
- Contact a Vet if you think your dog is having a reaction or has developed an infection.
WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN FIRE ANTS BITE
- Do not wash off fire ants. The water will make them more agitated and bite more and harder
- Do not pop blisters, unless directed by your Vet. This can cause an infection if not properly cleaned.
- Do not let your dog lick the bites. Limit their contact with the bites to prevent infection.
When to go to the Vet
When in doubt, go to the vet!
It is better to be safe than sorry as some reactions can occure rather quickly. Be sure to monitor your dog for swelling, difficulty breathing, rash, hives, vomiting, diarrhea, extreme itching, drooling, or seizures.
How to avoid Fire AnTS
- Be aware of what fire ant mounds look like so you can (hopefully) avoid them. The mounds are created when they tunnel underground and push up the earth as they create those tunnels. The mounds looks like a clump of dirt, without a hole, that you might traditionally see for other ant species. They typically are in open, sunny areas, which can mean in lawns, fields, playgrounds, parks, along sidewalks, and in golf courses.
- Wear closed toe shoes to protect your feet. As well, if you are in an area that is prone to
- Treat for the ants with the proper baits and sprays. Be sure to follow the directions and keep your dogs and children away from the insecticides for their safety.
As always, consult with a veterinarian in matters of health, wellness, and safety so they can assist you in providing the best care for your dog.