Thursday, June 03, 2010

Summer Pet Tips: Bites and Stings

Just as humans are bothered by pesky biting and stinging insects, so are our felines companions. Some insects are more troublesome than others, and some cats experience severe reactions while others only display very mild symptoms. Cats that like to play outside and chase bugs and other critters are especially susceptible to receiving bug bites. Even less active cats are likely to suffer from a bug bite during the course of their lives. Besides and fleas and ticks, other bugs can also bite or sting cats, including mosquitoes, bees, and spiders.

In most cases, you will not actually witness your cat being bitten, and will only have the aftereffects to go by to figure out what is troubling your cat. When bitten or stung, your cat is likely to display at least some sign or symptom, but the type of symptoms exhibited and their severity will depend upon the type of insect responsible as well as the characteristics of your individual pet. Even in circumstances where the reaction is quite mild, your cat will likely be more than happy to receive some relief from irritation caused by its bug bite. For this reason, it's helpful to recognize some of the more common symptoms of cat bug bites so that you can quickly identify the problem and provide appropriate treatment and relief.

Other than flea and tick bites, we are back to mosquitoes. Mosquito bites can be uncomfortable for your pet and can cause hypersensitivity. While flea bites can occur in small or large numbers, mosquito bites tend to occur just one at a time. The site of the bite will likely become red, itchy, and slightly swollen.

In the case of bee or wasp stings, swelling is very common and the sting site may become warm to the touch. These insect stings can also be quite painful for your pet. Often, the stinger will be left behind at the site of the sting and will be visible. (Removing the stinger should be done by gently scraping the stinger away from the injection site. Scraping tends to be better than using tweezers, as the second method can cause more venom to enter into your cat's system.) More severe reactions to bee stings can be very dangerous and require immediate veterinary attention. Warning signs of a more serious reaction include rapid swelling, redness around the eyes and lips, respiratory distress, vomiting, and staggering. If your cat displays these symptoms, take him or her to a veterinarian right away.

Spider bites are relatively uncommon among cats, but they can occur. Generally, these bites will not be particularly dangerous and will likely only cause slight swelling, itching, and a minimal amount of pain. Unless your cat is hypersensitive to insect bites or stings, most such incidents do not require significant treatment. Despite this, your pet will likely be very grateful to receive some form of relief from troubling symptoms such as itching and irritation; see your veterinarian for itch relief ointment.

In most cases of insect bites or stings, your vet will prescribe an ointment to treat the irritation. In severe cases, specialized treatment may be necessary. No matter what type of insect bite or sting your cat is suffering from, it's important to try to prevent your pet from biting or scratching at the affected area, as this can cause further irritation and can potentially lead to infection. Besides obtaining an ointment from your vet, you may want to try some of these home remedies to help with the irritation. Try using aloe to sooth your pet’s skin. You can use from a house plant or buy an aloe vera gel at your local pharmacy. Mashed plantain applied as an infusion or poultice can also provide significant relief. These natural substances and other plant and herbal components can also be found in a variety of homeopathic products. All of these substances have a variety of properties that assist with reducing inflammation while soothing pain and irritation. So if your cat is unfortunate enough to be the victim of an insect bite or sting, there are numerous ways to help reduce the irritation and other symptoms that are likely to trouble your pet.  

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