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Scorpion Stings in Dogs

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Although not all scorpions are considered deadly venomous (except to insects, their main source of food), you shouldn't take a scorpion sting lightly. The venom of a scorpion contains digestive enzymes, which can cause extreme pain. The venom of one particular scorpion, Centruroides exilicauda, contains digestive enzymes as well as venom toxic to the nervous system. This species of scorpion is usually found in the southwestern United States. Fortunately, stings by this scorpion are rare.

Even so, you should be aware of the danger, both inside and outside your home – in certain parts of the United States scorpions are quite common.

The effect of the sting often varies with the size of your pet. If prompt veterinary treatment is not administered, pets bitten by this scorpion may not survive.

What to Watch For

  • Drooling
  • Tearing from the eyes (the animal looks like she is crying)
  • Inappropriate urination and defecation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Muscle tremors
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Collapse

    Diagnosis

    Diagnosis is based on exposure to the venomous scorpion. The stinger may still be present in the skin. There are no blood tests available to test for the presence of scorpion venom. Without a known exposure to scorpions, the animal may be erroneously diagnosed with toxic insecticide exposure or epilepsy.

    Treatment

    There is no home care for venomous scorpion bites. Careful removal of the stinger can help but prompt veterinary care is strongly recommended.

    There are antidotes to scorpion venom but their use in animals is not recommended. Most animals respond well to supportive treatment, which is aimed at supporting the animal with intravenous fluids and pain relief. The stinger, if present, should be carefully removed.

    More aggressive treatments may also be necessary if signs of toxicity worsen. Methocarbamol may be used to reduce muscle tremors. Seizure activity may require diazepam or phenobarbital.

    Preventative Care

    Keep your animal confined to your yard, although these scorpions have been found in the yard and as well as the house. Leash walk dogs and do not allow them to roam in areas known to have venomous scorpions. Despite your efforts, it may not be possible to prevent exposure.

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