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Ant bites. Lots of them- help please!

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Ant bites. Lots of them- help please!
  •  Hey guys. Kiera has had yet another mishap. Lots and lots of (what we think are) fire ant bites.

    We believe Keira got bitten by a bunch of ants. She's had a lot of facial swelling which we've been keeping under control with Benadryl spread out through the day. She's had no signs at all of trouble breathing, tongue swelling, vomiting, shaking, weakness or signs of shock. It's been over 24 hours now, and still no signs of shock. I've heard that life threatening reactions will happen within 24 hours. However, there's still facial swelling.

    We've treated the ant bites with witch hazel and later apple cider vinegar. We've also held ice packs around the bites. They still seem to be bothering her. Is there anything else I can do to comfort her?

    We're keeping REALLY close watch on her for getting worse. Any sign and we'll rush her to an emergency night vet. This is obviously a reaction to the ant bites. Providing this sticks to just swelling, when should swelling subside? Since it's been over 24 hours, and there's still swelling, how worried should I be?

    Also, I learned you can give 1 cc ob Benadryl for each pound of dog weight. She's about 11.5 pounds. Today she's been given a total of 9cc so far spread out in 3 3cc doses. 

    Is it better to spread the doses out like this or give all at once? How many times can such a dosage be given in a day?

    In case you're wondering, we first thought there was only one unknown bite on the nose because that's where the swelling began. By the time we discovered the bites covering her chest (and a nest of ants where she had been laying yesterday) 24 hours had already passed. We thought we were dealing with one bite, and weren't that worried. Now that we know there are a LOT of bites, I'm very concerned. She swells, then gets better and we think it's over. But then she swells again. Quite possibly because of the spread out Benadryl. I really want to know how we should be spaving the Benadryl to be most effective.

    Any help is greatly appreciated. I hope I made sense of my post- I'm rather shaken right now.

  • I'm not sure what the dosage is for liquid benedryl - but the tablets are 1mg/lb. So - for an 11lb dog, you can safely give 1/2 tablet (usually comes in 25 mg) or the whole thing if it's really bad.

    If she's still swollen after 24 hours - I'd get her to the vet... they can do an injection that usually works a bit faster. Can she eat and drink?

  • She's eating and drinking fine. I'm making sure she has plenty of clean water, and she's been drinking about as much as she normally does.

    Her appitite hasn't really suffered. If anything she's eaten a little more (but that's relatively normal. When she is feeling even a little bad she tends to get super defensive over food and eat more than normal- mostly if you're near her). I'm making sure she doesn't eat TOO much or she'll probably throw up.

    Her behavior is pretty normal. She gets drowsy after the Benadryl. And rather grumpy because she's uncomfortable and I won't let her scratch. 

    She seems to swell, then we give her some Benadryl and the swelling goes away and she acts like nothing is wrong at all.

    We won't be able to get her in to a vet until morning. I'm keeping a really close eye on her until then. 

    Thank you so much for your reply.

  • The dosage for Benadryl (tablets or liquid w/o artificial sweetener):  1-2mg/lb of body weight 2-4 times/day

    With the facial swelling I would use the 2mg dosage.  For a 11.5lb dog that would be 23mg or just under a 25mg tablet.  Vets sometimes use dosages higher than 2mg/lb, so I would just use a 25mg tablet.  You can give one as frequently as every 6 hours.

    Liquid Benadryl is 12.5 mg per 5 mL (1ml = 1cc).  At the 2mg/lb dosage that would be 9.2cc per dose.

    The dosage for dogs is much higher than for humans due to their high metabolism.  You have been giving way below even the 1mg/lb dosage (4.6 cc).

  • If you are really concerned, go ahead and go to the vet.  However with the proper Benadryl dosage for several days, I bet Keira will be just fine.

    Even your low dosage of Benadryl is bringing down the swelling.  When the Benadryl wears off, the swelling re-appears because she has not cleared all the toxins from her system yet.  That will probably take several days.

    The proper dosage may well keep the swelling down between doses. 

  •  Thank you very very much for this information. Tablet Benadryl is being purchased tonight ASAP. I'll sleep a lot better (er, it's 2AM, so what's left of sleep).

     I kept finding that you could give 1 mg per pound of body weight, but I couldn't find how often it could be given. I certainly didn't want to give her too much. 

    She'll get some more in her system soon. I'll be sure to update after a few doses to let you know how it's controlling the swelling.

    We've also had some success reducing the bites themselves with vinegar, calamine and ice packs throughout the day. She's getting some good comfortable rest at the moment.


    Thank you so much!

  • Good luck in getting some sleep!  I would keep both Benadryl tablets and liquid handy.  The tablets are more convenient, but the liquid would work faster in an emergency where breathing is compromised.  Tape the dosage to the container(s) since info like that tends to vanish from the brain in an emergency.  Stick out tongue

    Be sure to check the sweetner in any new bottle of Benadryl (or substitute).  Don't assume that the formulation won't change in the future.  Xylitol is a sweetner that can quickly be fatal for dogs.  It causes a sudden drop in blood sugar and can result in severe liver damage.

    In fact dog owners should be very careful of any sugar-free product that they purchase.  Even one Xylitol breath mint can kill a small dog.

    Are you prepared to make your dog throw up if she eats something toxic (coffee grounds, backyard mushrooms, rat poison, etc., etc.)?

  • Here is a post on a minimal doggie first aid kit:   

    The next post in that thread lists some health books you might want to consider.

    Here is a post on what to do if you or your dog gets sprayed with pepper spray:

  • The above is correct -- you have to dose by weight and the 2 mg/lb body weight is best for an anphylactic reaction like a bite or sting.

    The problem with fire ant bites is that they are SO toxic and will leave that toxin in the skin.  I would head for the vet first thing this morning.  The vet may add antibiotics and the vet may drain the bites  

    I'm just going to say this:  NO 'sugar-free' stuff for dogs.  NONE of it.  There are several that are fatal.

     The other HUGE poison to dogs is anything "Tylenol" -- acetaminaphen kills dogs (even in small quantities).  It's difficult because we humans are so prone to thinking such products are 'safer' but they are NOT for dogs.

    The first aid you did helped get her thru the night, but I would head for the vet this a.m. simply because fire ant bites are so very toxic.


  • when I lived in the deep South the folk cure for the pain and fire of those darned things was to dag them with ammonia.  It takes the fire right out and really relieves the pain.

  • Vinegar will take the sting out and is much less caustic than ammonia.  Here in Texas we battle them constantly.  You learn not to stand in one spot too long without looking down at your feet. My dogs seem to learn the same thing or they smell them and avoid them because they rarely get bitten.  I hope your dog is better.

  • Update: Kiera has been doing great since last night Big Smile

    After we started getting the correct dosage in her she hasn't been having any problems other than a little itchiness. 

    There hasn't been any more swelling. In fact, once her muzzle swelling went down we could see that there WERE some bites around her nose that finally came to a head.  I thought all her facial swelling was allergic reaction to the bites on her chest. So it seems at least some was a result of bites in that location.

    The bites on her chest have gone down quite a bit too. And you can tell she's feeling loads better. Thank you so much everyone for your help! And for all the first aid tips!

    But- coffee grounds? I hadn't heard that one before. We use coffee grounds as fertilizer around some plants outside. I had never heard they could be harmful to dogs. She never goes around them, but still. Glad I know now.

  • Jackie?  White or cider vinegar?  That's a great tip.

  • glenmar
    White or cider vinegar? 


    I use white vinegar but I'm sure cider vinegar would work if that's all you had.  Our water is so hard here that I always have a gallon of vinegar handy to remove hard water deposits.

  • Oh good!  I keep white vinegar on hand for water spots, cleaning, disinfecting.......so I'll be all set should I encounter on the those vicious little buzzards!  Which I just may very soon......