Did you know?
We had the cutest little miniature pinscher come into our hospital tonight with a swollen face. Poor thing was miserable and tried to hide his head as I brought him back to the Critical Care Unit of our hospital. Since there was no visible wound the first suspicion for this type of symptom was some sort of allergic reaction.

Let me tell you why!
Cats and dogs are a lot like us humans when it comes to stinging insects, spider bites and pesky bugs. Some animals get bitten and a quick shake of the head is all they need before they are back to the adventure that got interrupted. Other animals, like their human companions, have a much more drastic response and will break out into hives, have parts of their body swell up, or get a nasty localized itchiness or painful bite site. Cats tend to respond with less swelling and more vomiting or gastro-intestinal upset.

Allergic reactions can range from being mildly annoying to life threatening. Mildly annoying might include hives, some minor facial swelling or swelling around the bite area. Facial swelling from an allergic reaction is often associated with insect stings and usually occurs during warm weather. The swelling is often around the mouth, eyes or ears and generally is non-painful. It’s good to remove the stinger if one can be found. A life threatening reaction could occur if the stinging insect was swallowed and stung on the inside of the mouth or throat causing swelling in the air passage that blocks off airflow and constricts the ability to breath.

Treatment for allergic reactions usually involves an antihistamine and a shot of steroids to decrease the swelling and itching. If the animal is scratching or biting at the affected area an Elizabethan collar might be recommended to keep the scratching paws away. Our veterinarians recommend a quick response for treatment to minimize the possibility of the life threatening situations and to decrease the overall discomfort for the animal. Some internet sites suggest treating allergic reactions with Benadryl at home. To be safe, it is best to have a veterinarian examine the animal to ensure that the problem is truly an allergic reaction and to recommend the proper dosage.

The moral of the story…tiny bites can cause big reactions.