Locally-Owned in Oakdale and St. Paul, Minnesota

Snake Bites, Bee and Wasp Stings! Oh No!

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If your pet was bitten by a venomous snake, this is considered a “RED” – or true emergency – on our Fast Track Triage chart. We advise you to seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!

  • Calmly and safely move pet away from snake. Back away slowly from the snake. 
  • Injured pets may be aggressive so proceed with caution while handling your pet to avoid being bitten by your pet.
  • If your pet was bitten in the face and has facial swelling, remove collar to make it easier for pet to breathe.
  • DO NOT attempt to remove venom with your mouth.
  • DO NOT apply ice or heat to bite mark. 

If your pet was bitten or stung by an insect and is experiencing an allergic reaction, their symptoms can range from mild to severe:

  • Difficulty breathing or collapsing are considered “RED” – or true emergencies – on our Fast Track Triage system. We advise you seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!
  • Facial swelling, hives, and wounds caused by itching are considered “YELLOW” – or semi-urgent case – on our Fast Track Triage system. We recommend having your pet evaluated by your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital within 24 hours. Call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you, and if your pet’s condition worsens, call the team back to inform them of the status change.
  • Red eyes, skin, and ears are considered “GREEN” – or non-urgent cases – on our Fast Track Triage system. This means emergency care isn’t needed, but your pet should be evaluated by your family veterinarian within the next few days.
    • Note: If it’s hot out and your dog has been exercising in the heat, red eyes, skin, and ears may be a result of heat exhaustion instead of allergies. Learn more about heat risks here.

Snakes

While snake bites can be a serious problem in other areas of the United States, fortunately for us, they are not a significant problem in Minnesota. Of the 17 snake species in the state, only two are venomous: the timber rattlesnake and the eastern massasauga. Both are found in the southeastern counties of Minnesota and are very rarely seen or encountered. Learn more about rattlesnake bites and pets here. If your pet was bitten by a snake, seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!

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Bees and Wasps

There are many different types of bees and wasps in Minnesota; however, the most commonly encountered are: yellowjackets, bald-faced hornets, paper wasps, honeybees, and bumblebees. While they all have the ability to sting, yellowjackets and paper wasps tend to be the most aggressive. True honeybees are rarely a problem unless their hive is being disturbed. Honeybees also have a barbed stinger that remains embedded in the skin. They can only sting once and then die.

If your pet is stung, it is important to get them out of the immediate area. Many bees will release an alarm hormone when they sting that will trigger additional aggression and stings from other bees in the immediate area. If you can see a stinger, don’t grab it to remove it! This may force more venom into the skin. Instead, scrape the stinger out with your fingernail, a credit card, etc. Wasp and hornets can deliver multiple stings and therefore, tend to be more serious, due to the amount of venom injected.

Just as with people, stings are painful to pets, but they are rarely serious or life-threatening. For pain, applying ice packs to the area of the sting may be helpful. Monitor closely for at least 30 to 90 minutes for any evidence of a more serious reaction: large swelling at the site of the sting, hives, a puffy face, problems breathing, or collapse. Cats may meow a lot, drool, walk like they’re drunk, or collapse.

If more serious complications appear to be developing, have your pet checked right away. People often ask if they can give a stung pet some Benadryl at home, but once serious reactions develop, Benadryl doesn’t help. Injectable medications and possibly IV fluids may be needed. If in doubt, seek immediate medical assistance.

Learn more about snake bites and insect stings or bites in this Facebook Live video featuring Dr. Berg, one of our emergency veterinarians:

Jeff Bush, DVM, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

 

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