What To Do If Your Dog Gets Stung By A Scorpion
A scorpion sting may not kill your dog, but it’s definitely going to ruin his day. I didn’t know how to properly care for our dogs if they were stung, so I was grateful to share this guest post from Emily Buchanan. Emily’s lives in the UK, and her dog was stung by a scorpion on a trip to Spain … but this situation could have easily happened in the United States. I imagined scorpions were only a concern in the desert southwest, but actually they can raise their stingers in all of the following 29 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming. Surprised? Me too.
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When seeking to avoid the stresses of commercial transport with kids, camping becomes a family essential. Deep down in the cavernous peripheries of my girlhood, the sun-kissed, unwashed hippie inside me will always feel happier on the road than plugged into a computer – so I’m quite in love with the idea of camping holidays. Plus, it means we can take our two Labradors, Ash and Logan, wherever we go – and this year we did just that … to Alicante, Spain.
I like to think of myself as a savvy traveler. If backpacking around Asia in my early twenties was doable, camping in my
mid *cough* late forties should be a breeze. But, up until now, I’ve never left the country with my dogs. The campsite we chose was great with pets (it even had an onsite vet that proved invaluable!), and before we left the UK I’d organised everything with military precision. I packed an adult first aid kit, a kid first aid kit, and a dog first aid kit. Our car was stuffed with safety precautions. However, I had overlooked one very important little thing: scorpions.
I’d assumed that scorpions were reserved to the wilds of Arizona or the desolation of the Sahara, not at a sea-side resort on the Costa Blanca. Therefore, when Ash lay whimpering under the camper one night and Logan was bashfully bating the grass with his paw, I wasn’t sure what was going on. It was only when Logan placed a dead scorpion proudly at my feet that I realized why Ash was hiding. He’d been stung!
I didn’t have the first clue about scorpions. As far as I was concerned they were deadly and their venom would bring a quick end to my beloved pooch. I panicked, of course, and ran barefoot through the midnight air with my seven-year-old Lab crying in my arms. Only adrenaline carried me across the campground to the vet’s trailer and, after banging on the door with the vigour of a deranged fool, the vet emerged with an expression of fatigue and annoyance. That soon faded when he saw the state my poor dog was in.
Thankfully, the vet was fully equipped for this incident. Whilst Mediterranean scorpions aren’t fatal they can mean bad business for dogs with an allergy to the venom. The vet removed the stinger from Ash’s nose (yes, his nose!), applied a cold compress and gave him a pain reliever and Benadryl. After a thorough checking over and some much needed love, Ash fell sound asleep on the vet’s floor! We decided not to disturb him and the vet said he’d keep an eye on him over night (what an amazing guy he was).
After all of his treatment, Ash spent the next few days looking swollen and grumpy, but he was back to his old self by the end of the week. The only lasting effect is that he’s now petrified of beetles and insects. He will literally recoil onto his hind legs and run half a mile if he sees a baby woodlouse.
Thus, I advise all pet owners traveling with their brood to exercise extreme caution regarding scorpions. Before you travel to any destination you should familiarize yourself with the risks. Make sure you know what particular species look like and never put yourself (or your dogs) in any uncompromising situations.
How To Prevent A Scorpion Sting
- Scorpions are nocturnal however; if your dog is rooting around in the undergrowth or digging during the day he may very well disturb a nest and this will result in a scorpion sting. Therefore, keep him in sight and under control.
- At night, it’s best to keep your dogs indoors – I wish I had! And before you go to bed, check your accommodations for scorpions. They stick to the shadows and are notorious for hiding in shoes.
- Shake out your shoes before putting them on!
- The larger the scorpion, the LESS venomous the sting. It’s the little ones you’ve got to be careful of.
- If you’re really paranoid then get a UV light. They make scorpions glow bright green!
What To Do If Your Dog Is Stung
Not everyone has access to an onsite vet whilst on holiday. We were very lucky. If you suspect that your dog has been stung, getting him to a vet is a priority. However, until you can locate one, here are some tips on the immediate actions to take.
A word of caution: Scorpion stings are very, very painful so you must do whatever you can to relieve your dog’s pain. These steps usually take two people because your dog may struggle to get away. Stick with it and your dog will be grateful later.
- Wash the affected area with cool water and then apply a cold compress (ice wrapped in a bandage is good) for ten minutes. When that time is up, leave the sting to breath for ten minutes and then reapply the compress (with new ice) for another ten minutes.
- If your dog has been stung on the leg or tail, try to keep the area raised to heart level. This can prove complicated but will stop the venom from getting into the blood stream.
- If you can locate the stinger and can safely remove it then do so using tweezers.
- If your dog is stung and you can safely catch the scorpion (or if it’s dead) then bring it along to the vet. It can be identified and the severity of the situation can be established.
- Provided you have dog medication, you can give them pain relief until you get to a vet.
Symptoms To Watch For
- Watering, blood-shot eyes and dilated pupils
- Uncharacteristic urination and defecation
- Muscle tremors
- Breathing difficulty
These tips should be practised with extreme caution. Ideally, take your dog to a vet immediately and let a professional deal with the problem.