Being a dog owner means that you are responsible for your furry Fido. When it comes to your dog’s health, it is crucial that you ensure that its vaccination is on schedule and complete.
Not only will this make her live longer, but also ensures that she does not contract diseases that may affect your family. There are times, however, that vaccines can’t protect your precious buddy, particularly when she gets bitten by another creature, one with a lethal and venomous sting— scorpions.
Dogs and scorpions— they are quite the scary match, especially if you live somewhere in the South-western desert and states, including Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona where these sting-carrying critters abound.
Not all scorpions, however, are created equal. And although all kinds of scorpions contain venom in their stings, the power or concentration of the poison varies from depending on the species.
It is estimated that there are only 25 out of the 1,500 scorpion species, which are capable of killing a human being. And of the particular concerns for both humans and pets, is the venomous bark scorpion, one of the smallest species and light brown in colors that are commonly found in Northern Mexico and Southwestern US. Other poisonous species include the fat-tailed scorpion and the Death Stalker scorpion.
So, how likely is your dog to come across a scorpion and be stung?
Well, this usually depends on your area, your dog and several other factors. The curious and inquisitive nature of dogs does not really help. There are some dogs that will pick a fight and not back away from a scorpion they’ve spotted.
Others sniff dangerously near scorpions however are more likely hesitant when doing so and keeping their body ready to spring back at the moment the critter threateningly raises its tail. This approach-avoidance stance that your dog does will keep him ready to back out in an instant. Unfortunately, though, scorpions are quicker to sting than a dog’s reflexes.
In addition, these critters are nocturnal and are more active at night. For this very reason, you will most likely find stray scorpions lurking inside your home at night. The bark scorpions measuring only 2 – 3 inches, in particular, are more than capable of entering through entryways such as under the windows and doors with 1/16 of an inch opening. Some species are also capable of climbing trees, walls and other objects.
During the day, on the other hand, at the great outdoors, scorpions tend to hide from the heat and are more likely to hide under tree bark, wood piles, and rocks. They are usually attracted to humidity, so you will also find them under a pile of humid towels or flower pots. So, if your furry buddy is a notorious digger, then you might need to keep a watchful eye on him as he might dig out a sleeping scorpion.
Also, scorpions are quite active during monsoon season when there’s heavy rain, and high humidity attracts all kinds of bugs that want humid areas such as sycamore groves, cottonwood, and mesquite. And if you irrigate your lawn and increase the humidity levels around your home, then you are more likely to invite more scorpions over.
Scorpions’ preferred meal is crickets. So, if you got lots of crickets in your area, then scorpions will absolutely love the place.
Scorpion Sting to Dog Symptoms
Your furry friend won’t be able to tell the difference between the sting of a bee and that of a scorpion. However, all scorpion stings have one thing in common: they are quite painful. This is because of the presence of digestive enzymes.
If your dog is stung by a non-venomous scorpion, then he might hold up the limb that was stung or limp. In general, these are not life-threatening and considered comparable to a bee sting.
However, a sting from venomous scorpions, say bark scorpion, can be quite dangerous and proven fatal. And if you do not know which scorpions stung your furry friend, then it is always best to treat all scorpion stings as if they were delivered by the poisonous bark scorpion.
If you suspect that your dog has been stung by a scorpion, see a vet immediately. Additionally, if the specimen is available and you can safely collect it, then you will have to take it with you so that your vet will have a quicker assessment of the severity of the sting.
Some of the symptoms of scorpion stings in dogs include:
- Eye tearing
- Difficulty breathing
- Nervous system problems including dilated pupils and muscle tremors
- Local swelling may be present
- Pain manifested through yelping, limping, mouth smacking or licking at the wound
- Possible collapse and even death
Note, however, that symptoms of a scorpion sting may also mimic other medical conditions. So, when an encounter with a scorpion is not witnessed, then a dog might be misdiagnosed as having an epileptic attack or exposed to something toxic.
Treatment For Scorpion Bite on Dog
Truth be told, there are no home remedies for a scorpion sting. And the best thing you can do, if you suspect a scorpion sting is to get to the vet immediately for supportive care. This usually means providing pain relief and intravenous fluids. In addition, methocarbamol may also be given in order to reduce muscle spasms.
While a dog can fully recover within 24 hours after being stung by a non-venomous scorpion, a bark scorpion sting gets worse by the hour. And without medical intervention, your dog is likely to die. So, time is of the essence here.
Meanwhile, there are a few things that you can do while you’re on your way to the vet to ensure that your furry friend gets there alive.
1. Remove The Stinger
Try to locate the stinger from your dog. Using a pair of tweezers, carefully remove it from the skin.
2. Apply Cold Pack
After removing the stinger, it is important that you make sure that the toxin does not spread. So, place a wet and cold washcloth on the sting. Then put a cold pack, a bag of frozen peas on top of a cloth or a plastic bag filled with ice. Apply the cold pack on your way to the vet.
3. Restrict Movement
Put your dog in a box or a carrier. Stop him from jumping or walking around and try to keep him as calm as possible. Activity and rising blood pressure can speed up circulation and spread the poison faster.
4. Place A Cone Collar On Your Dog
Even if the scorpion was not poisonous at all, a stung dog will lick or chew at the sore to alleviate pain. This can make the reaction worse, so consider fitting your dog with a cone-shaped collar restraint.
5. Apply A Baking Soda Paste
If your dog can’t stand the pain on the stung area, applying a baking soda paste should be able to soothe and rake the pain away. This can be quite messy on the furry area of the body, however, it works really well on the lightly furred regions like the belly.
Separate the fur around the sting and try to get the paste directly onto the skin. You can create this paste by mixing baking soda and small water enough to create a thick paste and dab it on the swelling part.
6. Give Antihistamines
Scorpion venom has histamine that causes inflammation and pain in the stung area. Depending on the symptoms, your vet may recommend that you give your dog antihistamines (plain Benadryl) while on your way to reduce your pet’s discomfort.
In addition, Benadryl can also make your dog sleepy, helping him to calm down until you can reach medical attention. Benadryl pills usually come 25mg each while the liquid form typically comes in doses of 12.5mg per teaspoon.
A dog will need 1mg per pound of body weight every 6 – 8 hours. This means that if you got a 10-pound dog, then half a pill or at least ¾ teaspoon should be enough. Make sure to check with your vet on the most appropriate dosage.
If your pet suddenly stops breathing, then you will have to start artificial respiration immediately. Close your dog’s mouth and perform 2 quick breaths over your dog’s nostrils and see if his chest rises.
Give 15 – 20 breaths every minute until he starts breathing again or until you reach medical help.
8. For Stings On The Leg Or Tail
If you are far away from vet help and the sting is somewhere on the tail or the leg, then you will have to apply a snug bandage between the heart and the stung area. Wrap a string, a rope or a small towel around the limb then cover with an elastic bandage.
If an elastic bandage is not available, then just tie the string or rope around the limb, the elastic bandage and towel are safer and more effective than the tourniquet style in slowing the spread of venom, however, you will have to work with what’s available in the situation.
After Medical Attention
Most of the time, vets prescribe antibiotics for dogs stung by scorpions. This should help prevent a secondary infection from the toxin of the venom.
In general, scorpion stings which become infected may develop areas of drying skin that needs to be cleaned out. So, you may need to clean the wound twice a day with antiseptic solutions such as Betadine.
Buy this solution from a pet supply store or from your vet in a strength of 0.01 – 0.1 percent. In case there’s only higher strength Betadine, then dilute it with distilled water until it has a paler color. Ask a pharmacist or a vet for the exact instructions on dilution.
After your doggo receives the medical attention needed, you will need to continue to monitor him for a few more days. This is to ensure that there is no delayed reaction to the venom. And if you see symptoms such as collapse, breathing difficulty, muscle tremors, uncharacteristic defecation, and urination, dilated pupils, blood-shot eyes, watery eyes or drooling, then it is time for another trip to the vet.
Preventing Scorpion Stings On Your Dog
As we all know, prevention is worth far more than a cure.
And although scorpions are nocturnal critters, it does not always mean that daytime is safe. A dog that unknowingly disturbs a sleeping scorpion is at high risk of being stung.
So, here are some tips in preventing your lively and inquisitive doggo from encountering and getting stung by a scorpion.
1. Seal Gaps And Cracks
The best way you can keep your doggo safe from painful scorpion stings is to keep your furry friend inside and the venom-carrying critters outside. Small cracks in your house, as well as gaps in weather stripping near windows and doors, are attractive to scorpions.
To check for cracks and gas, have someone shine a flashlight the doors and windows at night and another stand outside to look for lights that peek through. Remember that scorpions, particularly the bark scorpions can flatten themselves and squeeze through even the smallest cracks so make sure to seal any gaps and cracks tightly.
2. Hunt Them, If You Want
To hunt them down, consider getting black lights and a good shoe. Scorpions tend to shine brightly under a blacklight while shoes should protect you from stings you might not see.
3. Keep The Humidity Low
As I mentioned before, most scorpions like to rest on humid areas. So, consider giving your garden a trim and clean out all those junks and garbage that might be a good hiding spot for dangerous scorpions. Until all is clean, don’t allow your dog digging into your backyard where they have a higher chance of meeting with scorpions.
4. Hire A Pest Control Company
Regular bug sprays and powders, generally don’t affect a scorpion. It would take at least 7 – 14 days for it to penetrate a scorpion’s durable exoskeleton. However, if you choose to do it yourself, know that bug sprays and powders can kill pests on a scorpion’s menu.
But, if you want to kill those pesky scorpions, consider hiring a pest control company. They have strong pest control chemicals that are effective when dealing with scorpions. Just make sure that you and your family are not around when the spraying begins.