Dog Tips

How Serious are Insect Bites on Dogs?

You would have probably seen your dog chasing insects multiple times, only to come back with multiple stings on their entire body. For our canine buddies, the small little insects are like flying toys. The only problem with letting their curiosity and playfulness be is that these insect bites can sometimes be very serious. They can cause allergies that can lead to severe reactions in your dog.

Let’s get to know the different kinds of insect stings and the treatments for them. Not all insect bites are to be treated. However, it is important to know how to identify each one of them.

Types of Insect Bites on Dogs (1)

  • Fleas 

These are tiny, brown insects that latch onto a dog’s body and feed on its blood, Dogs get them from the outside and bring them home, where they breed and multiply. The bite is usually painful causing the dog to chew and scratch the affected part. Some dogs even have an allergy to flea saliva. To them, a single flea bite can cause dermatitis which can lead to itchiness, hair loss and sores. The way to know if it’s a flea bite is to look for flea dirt or live fleas on the dog’s body. The lower back, tail, and hind legs are most prone to these. 

  • Ticks

Ticks are eight-legged parasites that, just like fleas, get stuck to the dog’s body and suck blood from it. They hide in grass, shrubs or roots and wait for a chance to stick to the dog’s body when they are walking by. If you see a circular area of inflamed skin, it’s probably a tick bite. Your dog may keep licking and scratching the wound because of the irritation. This could even lead to an infection. The feet, neck, head, and ears are the most common body parts where these are found. 

  • Mites

Mites are tiny creatures, invisible to the naked eye. So is their bite. But enough of them concentrated in an area can cause the fur to fall, leaving behind a patch. Your dog can also transmit these to you. 

  • Mosquitoes

Mosquito bites on dogs are as common as they are on us humans. They will look also similar to that on human skin. Areas with less fur like ears, belly, inner legs, and groin region are more susceptible to mosquito bites. Most of the time, these bites will go away by themselves. However, some can cause an allergic reaction to your dog and even cause heartworm disease. 

  • Bees / Hornets/ Wasps

The most painful and irritating out of all are stings by bees, hornets or wasps. You’ll see your dog crying out loud, excessively licking the wound and may even get restless. You’ll see a swelling and redness in the affected area. In case it causes an allergy, you could even see signs like facial swelling, hives, labored breathing, intense itchiness, vomiting or diarrhea. 

  • Ants

The fire ones here may cause the most trouble for your dog. The bite will look similar to that of a bee sting but may also have a white pus-like filling in the middle, almost like a pimple. Even these can cause an allergic reaction for some dogs, leading to the same signs as one from a bee sting. 

  • Flies

Horse flies, black flies, deer flies and sand flies can also leave a sting on your dog’s body. The wound would look similar to that of an ant bite. Even these are capable of triggering an allergic reaction in your dog. 

How Bad are Fly Bites on Dog Ears?

Flies carry bacteria and are capable of causing not only damage to the body of your pet, but serious stress and discomfort if not repelled. Multiple fly bites on your dog’s ears or nose can lead to serious damage, infection and in severe cases, death of the tissue. In case the fly gets access to an open wound or infected skin, it can lay eggs inside the wound which can become maggots. 

Dog Bug Bite Treatment Options

Most of a dog’s skin is usually covered in fur making it difficult to spot an insect bite from afar. This is why, you need to be on a hunt for other signs like – 

  • Whining

  • Holding the stung paw up 

  • Limping

  • Nibbling or biting the sting

  • Excessive drooling

  • Pawing at the face

  • Swelling

  • Red and swollen skin

  • Chewing the foot

Once you’ve spotted the bite, here’s what you must do. (2)

  • Identify the insect – Check the surroundings for any flying or crawling insects. Capture if something is sitting on your dog’s body.

  • Look for a stinger – Bees leave a stinger behind that releases venom secretly. Use something like a credit card to scrape it out. Do not pinch or tweeze it. It can squeeze more venom out. 

  • First aid -  Apply baking soda to the affected site and rinse it with water later. 

  • Minimize swelling – Apply an ice pack to the wound to reduce pain and inflammation. (avoid using an ice directly)

  • Contact your vet – A dose of oral antihistamine might be needed here. Consult your vet before giving anything to your dog. 

  • Prevent scratching – You can use an Elizabeth collar to stop your dog from licking or scratching the wound as it can delay the healing.

  • Hydrate – Offer plenty of fresh water to your dog along with plenty of love and comfort during the pain.

Treatment for Fly Bites on Dog Ears Options

If the bite has not triggered any allergic reaction, the wound will heal itself in a couple of days, However, areas inside the ears can be sensitive. You need to be gentle here in administering the first aid. Gently clean the affected area with warm water and a mild soap. Keep the dog inside the house for a day or two till the wound heals. 

Are Fly Bites on Dogs Serious?

Fly bites could be serious for some dogs and not for others. It would depend on their immune system and how likely the dog is to get an allergy. You would have to start worrying if you see the following in your dog – 

  • Severe swelling

  • Bumps under the skin or red bumps on hairless areas like the belly

  • Difficulty breathing or whining

  • Excessive drooling

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

  • Dizziness or disorientation as the venom can affect the nervous system

  • Seizures

You must immediately take your dog to a vet if you see any of these. 

How to Treat Black Flies Bites on Dogs

Black fly bites are usually mild and won’t need any medical intervention apart from the initial first aid from you to reduce the inflammation and pain. The swelling should go away in a day or two. But in case of any allergic reaction or any of the above-mentioned signs, you must immediately consult a vet. 

More About Spot Pet Insurance

While you take care of your pet during such times of pain and irritation, we can help you in taking care of the finances. Allergic reactions, if triggered, can prove to be severe for your dog. The treatment can go on for days. Hospitalization may also be needed in some cases. With pet health insurance, you can save up to 90% of the treatment costs. 

Dog Insurance can help provide financial assistance for eligible veterinary care in case of unexpected accidents, illnesses, or injuries. Our plans can help pet parents manage the eligible costs of covered veterinary care and help ensure that their pets can receive the best treatment possible. Here are some ways that Spot pet insurance plans can help:

  • Covers Unexpected Veterinary Costs: Spot pet insurance plans cover the eligible costs of unexpected veterinary treatments, such as emergency surgeries, X-rays, and prescription medications for covered conditions.

  • Customizable Plans: Choose your annual limit, reimbursement rate, and deductible from a range of options, and create the plan that will fit the needs of your pet and your budget. 

  • Peace of Mind: With Spot pet insurance plans, pet parents can know that they can provide the best care for their pet with less worry about the cost.

To learn more about Spot Plans or to get a free quote, click here.


  1. Diener, M., DVM. (2023, September 12). 7 common bug bites on dogs. PetMD.

  2. First aid for insect stings in dogs | VCA Animal Hospital | VCA Animal Hospitals. (n.d.). Vca.

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