By: Isadora O’Brien, DVM
It’s that time of year! The flowers are out and they are bringing the bees and other insects with them. As we enjoy our longer and nice days with our pets you may find yourself looking at your furry family member wondering when they started looking like a cartoon character. This article will go over the common signs of an acute allergic reaction such as from an insect sting and what you should do if this occurs.
The most common symptoms of an allergic reaction are facial swelling (also known as angioedema) that can affect the face, lips, eyelids, throat, ear flaps and nose. Dogs can also develop hives (also called urticaria) which are red raised bumps or swollen areas which can be itchy. Hives can occur over a small area near the sting or sometimes be generalized over large areas of skin. If your dog has a long or thick hair coat they can be difficult to see. These hives or facial swelling may result in your pet frantically rubbing or pawing at its face/other areas or scratching aggressively at itself. Other symptoms that can occur are sudden onset vomiting or diarrhea. Although most of these allergic reactions are mild and look alot worse than they are, it’s important to know that in some severe cases they can result in difficulty breathing, collapse and sudden death.
So what should you do if you think your pet is having an allergic reaction? Although your first impulse may be to snap a few humorous photos of your dog’s new look, the first step should always be to call your veterinarian. Even if the symptoms don’t seem severe to you it’s best to call for expert advice to make sure your pet doesn’t need to be seen as an emergency appointment. If after discussion over the phone your pet sounds stable we may advise you to administer an over the counter antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (also known as Benadryl). This drug is safe for most dogs and sometimes can control the symptoms without a vet visit. However, some allergic reactions can result in an emergency and even death of your beloved pet so it’s always best to call first so we can best advise you.
As always please feel free to call our office at (360) 354-5095
What should you do if this happens when we are closed?
Please contact the animal emergency center (AEC) in Bellingham at (360) 758-2200