Can Dogs Get Bug Bites? Everything You Need to Know

Ever seen your dog suddenly scratching after playing outside? Notice a small bump on their skin? Just like us, dogs can get bug bites, too.

This guide will help you understand which bugs might be bothering your pet and what you can do to help. Let’s keep our furry friends happy and itch-free!

Common Bug Bites and Stings Affecting Dogs

Bee Stings

The symptoms of a bee sting in dogs include reddened, itchy, swollen, or sensitive spots, and, in more severe cases, lethargy, nausea, difficulty breathing, and extreme swelling. Black widow and brown recluse spider bites on dogs can cause reddened, swollen, or raised areas on the skin, as well as discoloration or darkening of the skin where the dog was bitten.

Fire ant bites on dogs can result in red and swollen areas on the skin, excessive scratching, pain near the bite, limping, or raising one paw if the bite is on a limb, drooling, and swelling of the muzzle if the bite is near the mouth.

For your dog’s safety, here are some tips to follow:

  • Discourage them from snapping or biting at bees

  • Prevent them from sniffing holes in the ground that may house bees

  • Regularly inspect your dog’s body for insect bites to help with early detection and treatment.

a dog scratching its head

Tick Bites

Tick bites can potentially lead to tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease, and may result in:

  • Localized redness and swelling

  • Scratching and licking at the site of the tick bite

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Fever

  • Lethargy

  • Decreased appetite

  • Lameness or difficulty walking

  • Changes in voice or difficulty barking

  • Loss of coordination in the hind legs

  • Pale gums

  • Difficulty breathing

Symptoms of tick bites in dogs can manifest as early as 2-3 days or as late as 2-5 months after the tick has transmitted the bacterial disease. Consequently, monitoring your dog for any behavioral or appetite changes following a tick bite is vital.

Common ticks known to bite dogs include the American dog tick, brown dog tick, deer tick (also known as the black-legged tick), and lone star tick.

Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness, can cause the following symptoms in dogs:

  • Lameness

  • Enlarged lymph nodes

  • Joint inflammation

  • Lethargy

  • Reduced appetite

  • Renal complications

Detecting and treating this disease early is paramount to avoid long-term health issues.

Flea Bites

Flea bites on dogs can cause itching, hair loss, and flea allergy dermatitis, and may also transmit tapeworms.

Symptoms of flea bites include severe scratching and itching, biting and chewing at the skin, hair loss, scabs, and red, irritated skin.

Flea bites can be identified by their small, red, raised dots on the skin, which are typically smaller than other insect bites and may be found in clusters or in lines.

Fleas can transmit tapeworms to dogs when the dog ingests a flea carrying tapeworm larvae, which then develop into adult tapeworms in the dog’s intestines. Flea allergy dermatitis, an allergic reaction to flea bites, can cause:

  • itching

  • hair loss from the middle of the back to the tail base

  • red skin

  • repeated scratching

  • “hot spots” on the skin

dog scratching his head

Treating Insect Bites and Stings at Home

If your dog is stung by a bee or bitten by an insect, you can take some steps to treat the bite or bee stings at home. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Firstly, if you’ve been stung, identify the stinger quickly.

  2. Use something thin and stiff, like a credit card to ease it out from the skin’s surface.

  3. Then, carefully remove it by hand.

Applying a cool compress, such as cold water or an ice pack, can help alleviate any swelling at the site of the insect bite or sting. To treat bug bites, a baking soda paste can also be applied to reduce swelling and itching associated with insect bites.

Monitor your dog closely for any signs of an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, collapse, seizures, vomiting, or diarrhea, and seek veterinary care if needed.

Read also: How to Identify and Treat Insects That Bite Dogs

Allergic Reactions and Anaphylaxis in Dogs

Allergic reactions and anaphylaxis in dogs can be life-threatening and require immediate veterinary care. Symptoms of an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis in dogs may include:

  • Hives

  • Facial swelling

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Collapse

Prompt medical attention is necessary if your dog shows any of these severe symptoms following an insect bite or sting:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Swelling of the face, lips, or throat

  • Hives or rash

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

  • Weakness or collapse

Anaphylactic shock, a serious allergic reaction, can be life-threatening and requires immediate veterinary care.

Recognizing signs of an allergic reaction allows you to act swiftly, ensuring your dog receives the necessary medical treatment for a fast recovery.

dog biting his itching leg

When to Consult a Veterinarian

Consult a veterinarian if your dog shows severe symptoms, has multiple bug bites, is bitten by a venomous spider, or if you have concerns about their health after a bug bite or a spider bite.

Stomach upset, lethargy, appetite loss and swelling at the sting or bite location are prolonged symptoms. If these symptoms have not resolved within a few hours, veterinary attention is necessary.

Since your dog’s health and well-being are paramount, knowing when to seek professional help is crucial. Don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog’s condition after an insect bite or sting.

Read also: Puppy Training Timeline: When to Start Training a Puppy

dog owner treating his dog from bug bites


Learning to identify and treat common insect bites and stings on dogs is essential to ensure their comfort and health.

By recognizing the signs of insect bites, treating them at home when possible, and seeking veterinary care when necessary, you can protect your furry friend from discomfort and potential health risks. Keep your canine companion safe and itch-free by being proactive and staying informed.

Amy Tutchan

Amy Tutchan, a dedicated and versatile editor at, whose heart beats in rhythm with the paws of our canine companions. Amy is a passionate advocate for dogs of all shapes and sizes, and her extensive knowledge and genuine love for these loyal friends shine through in every word she writes. With a keen eye for detail and an unwavering commitment to the welfare of dogs, Amy will be your go-to source for all things canine-related on our blog.

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