Don’t we all love the outdoors, especially with the company of our friends?
Well, the outdoors always have a lot to offer including unwanted ant bites. So, when you are out there with your four-legged friends, and they happen to come too close to the ants to warrant a bite, don’t worry, we got you covered.
Here are ways to identify and treat ant bites for your pets.
Ant bites signs and symptoms on pets
The most common ant bites associated with pets are fire ants. These aggressive red creatures might look cute but pose a threat to both pets and their handlers. One of the reasons as to why it’s very easy for fire ants to attack your pets is because they don’t need provocation to strike.
These little red venomous creatures are very aggressive and live in groups making it easy for them to attack simultaneously. Furthermore, they are known to attack where it hurts the most. For dogs, they will obviously target the soft tissue areas like the snout, toes, legs, and feet.
The way various pets react to ant bites varies depending on the severity of the bite and how quickly its attended to. Nevertheless, you can easily realize that fire ants have bitten your pet as they cause instantaneous reactions such as discomfort, constant scratching, and swelling.
If fire ants bite your pet, you will realize the discomfort and constant licking of the affected area. Licking the ant bite only makes the situation worse, and therefore it’s imperative to keep an eye on the injury after first aid and dressing.
In the case your pets are attacked by fire ants, it’s advisable to rush them to the nearest vet for anaphylactic shock treatment. However, before even thinking about the location of your nearest vet, you need to attend to your pets. Here are the steps you need to follow during the first aid exercise.
Steps to follow during first aid
1. Stop the attack
The first thing that you need to do after realizing that fire ants have bitten your pet dog or cat is to move her/him to safety. As mentioned earlier, ants live in large numbers and attack simultaneously. Furthermore, they produce a certain chemical alerting the rest of the ants around of the imminent danger. In this regard, the attack continues unless the pet is removed from the vicinity.
After taking the pet to safety, pick out all the ants using your hands, brush or soft towel. Brushing them off is one of the most effective methods especially for pets with long fur. Ensure you are gentle and quick to avoid further injuries. Make sure that you check every inch of your pet for hiding ants.
2. Wash the wounds/ant bites
For quick relief, wash off the wounds with antibacterial soap for a couple of minutes and then apply an anti-itching cream. An oatmeal bath comes in handy if you don’t have any anti-itch cream. You need cold water and oatmeal shampoo to create a nice soothing bath. The bath will automatically prevent bacterial infections and further irritation. Pure ammonia also works if you don’t have oatmeal shampoo or after bite liquid.
After cleaning your pet up, apply baking soda paste to the wounds to relieve the pain and avoid swelling. To make the paste, just add a few drops of water to baking soda while mixing until the desired texture of the paste is achieved. Meat tenderizer can also be used in place of baking soda. Apply the paste directly to the ant bites and around the affected areas. If need be, make sure you wrap up the affected areas using plastic bags to discourage the pet from licking the paste off.
3. Apply ice
To further suppress the pain and swelling, you need to apply ice wrapped in a cloth directly on the ant bites. 10 to 15-minute sessions are advised as anything longer than 15 minutes may affect blood circulation. Repeat these sessions after every two hours as you monitor the pet’s progress.
4. Examine your dog for any complications
Fire ants do not only cause irritating and pain to pets but also have the potential to cause allergies and infections using their venom. In this regard, you might want to consider a milligram or two for every pound of plain Benadryl before visiting the vet. However, as with any other over-the-counter medications, you will need to consider discussing this with your vet prior to administering the medicine.
The job doesn’t end here as you need to keep a close eye on your pet in order to discover symptoms of infections that may be caused by the ant bites. Some of the obvious symptoms include extreme warmth in the affected area, fever and a red line extending from the wound/ant bite.
For severe cases, look out for diarrhea, agitation, breathing difficulties and frequent seizures. These symptoms should manifest themselves in the first 24 hours and warrant for a quick trip to the vet.
Just like humans, pets react differently to venom, and you might find that your pet is hypersensitive to venom hence showing numerous symptoms. Don’t panic. Although both black and red ants are venomous, it’s the red ones that carry the most venom which may cause shock to animals in life-threatening cases.
Quick tips for treating ant bites on dogs and cats
Avoid using a hosepipe to wash off the ants. Instead of scaring away the ants, it makes them panic consequently biting harder.
Use the services of an exterminator if you come across fire ants in your home.
Buy and keep Benadryl if you own pets as it helps with a variety of allergic reactions. Nevertheless, only use it when necessary.
Try and find natural insect repellants if you know that your pets have to spend a lot of time outdoors. Some of them are readily available such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and citronella. However, always inquire from your vet on the products you intend to use on your pets.