Help! My pet got stung by a scorpion!

ScorpionLiving in Las Vegas, we have a great number of insects that are only found in desert climates, and unfortunately many of these insects have bites and stings that can be quite painful, if not deadly to pets and humans alike.  Without going in to a list of insects that are common to the Las Vegas valley that will frequently sting or bite pets who interrupt them, we will discuss a few of the most common.   As expansion to areas of Las Vegas that have remained as an un-inhabited desert for many years happens, we find many insect populations coming into close contact with us every day, even though many people can claim to have never even seen one of these types of insects previous to moving to a specific area of Las Vegas.  We will be discussing scorpion stings, and what to do if your pet is stung by a scorpion.

Animal Reactions to Scorpion Stings

In states such as Arizona, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, scorpions are quite common and are often seen by humans either hiding in shadows or sometimes right out in the open.  All types of scorpions have venom in their sting, but the severity of the reaction that the pet will have to the sting has to do with the concentration of the venom, and the amount delivered by the sting.  One of the most poisonous types of scorpions are the Arizona bark scorpion, the DeathStalker scorpion, and the fat-tailed scorpion.  There are known cases where scorpion stings can kill a human being within minutes, so it cannot be stressed enough that if either you, a family member or your pet encounters a scorpion to avoid it.  If you or your pet is stung, it is crucial to get to a hospital or animal hospital as soon as possible in order to be examined by a doctor familiar with scorpion stings.  Some can kill an average-sized human being in just a few minutes. So what should you do if your dog or cat is stung by a scorpion that is common in Las Vegas, which is also one of the most poisonous (the Arizona Bark scorpion?)

If your pet gets stung by a bark scorpion, and you have found the insect which stung the pet (so that you can know for sure that it is a bark scorpion) you should act quickly to get your pet to the veterinarian, but do not panic as the typical reaction to the scorpion bite on an animal is comparable to the sting of a bee.  They will generally be exhibiting a great deal of pain, potentially yelping and crying, and possibly holding their injured paw in the air.  Generally within a 24 hour period, the animal will fully recover from the sting and no longer be feeling pain, however if the sting occurs in the mouth of the animal (actually very common as pets are curious of insects crawling on the ground and will attempt to eat them or bite them) the venom can have a more serious effect.  Deaths have occurred within animals being stung by bark scorpions in the mouth or nose, so we cannot reiterate that if you believe your pet has been stung to get them to an animal hospital immediately.

When to Bring Your Pet to the Vet

If your pet is exhibiting paralysis, difficulty breathing, swelling or skin, drooling or collapse,  get them to a veterinarian immediately.  Since bark scorpions are typically nocturnal, many stings that occur on animals happen at night after your veterinarian is closed.  For this reason we suggest that you always know the route to the nearest 24 hour animal hospital, along with their phone number.  Because the bark scorpion packs so much venom into it’s stings, they are a serious concern even in cases where the animal is only showing symptoms of pain or discomfort.  Allergic reaction is also a potential complication which can have very serious consequences.   You will usually notice your pet acting unusual within 10 to 15 minutes after the stinging incident, so the venom is already inside of your pet and time should not be wasted. Without medical intervention, there is a chance that your pet will die.

First Aid for Scorpion Stings

For stings by not-so-venomous scorpions, there are first aid measures that you can take to alleviate pain and swelling and to promote healing and recovery. Here are a few tips.

1. Apply a thick paste made from baking soda and water.

This blend is a popular home remedy for scorpion stings which also work well when applied onto affected animals. Make sure to apply the paste on the skin to increase effectiveness. Part the fur to get the mixture onto the affected site.

2. Restrict your dog’s or cat’s movements.

Any form of movement can increase the heart rate and circulation, which then further spreads the injected venom into the body more quickly. Therefore, encourage your pet to stay put. Put it in a container, such as a carrier, so that it won’t be able to move around a lot.

3. Place a cone collar on your pet.

Animals like to nip or lick their injuries. But this will only encourage the venom to spread faster. In addition, gnawing on an injured site could result in infection.

Animals frequently bite or lick an area that is injured.  This is an action that will cause the venom to spread more quickly and possibly cause an infection of the area.  Do not allow your pet to bite or lick the sting by placing a cone collar on their neck.  It is a good idea to have a cone collar in your home if you live in an area that has scorpions or other venomous insects.