Are jellyfish dangerous to dogs?
A great beach day with your pup can quickly take a turn when your dog suffers a jellyfish sting.
But are the stings from a jellyfish harmful to our beloved pets?
Yes, they are!
If you’re a new or experienced dog parent, it’s essential to know the dangers that jellyfish can pose for your dogs, especially if you live in Hawai’i.
In this post, you will learn about the dangers of jellyfish for dogs, what symptoms to look for if your dog gets stung by a jellyfish, what pet first aid techniques you can use to help your dog with a jellyfish sting, and how to prevent jellyfish stings for your dog.
This blog is about the dangers of jellyfish for dogs.
Jellyfish Dangers 101: All the Basics Dog Parents Need to Know
Jellyfish Stings for Dogs.
Dogs are stung by jellyfish in a few ways: coming in contact with them, biting, licking, or trying to eat them.
Jellyfish have long tentacles with barbed stingers that will attach to your dog and release toxic venom into the skin.
The toxic chemicals from the venom enter your dog’s bloodstream and attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells.
Dead jellyfish are still capable of stinging several weeks after their death.
Make no mistake about it; the sting from a jellyfish is nowhere near like a sting from a bee.
Dogs stung by a jellyfish can suffer mild to severe allergic reactions, and the pain from a jellyfish sting can send your dog into shock, which can be fatal.
Common Jellyfish Seen in Hawai’i.
Jellyfish are all too familiar in Hawaii, particularly the Box Jellyfish and its relative, the Portuguese Man o’ War.
The Box Jellyfish (aka Sea Wasp) has one of the most dangerous and venomous stings due to its fast-acting toxins, which cause unimaginable pain.
The pain from a Box Jellyfish sting is so off the chart that it can easily send a human into shock or heart failure.
Each Box Jellyfish is said to have enough venom to kill 60 people.
The Portuguese Man o’ War is not a jellyfish but a species closely related to them.
They can be easily identified by their blue, violet, or pink balloon-shaped body and their long tentacles.
The tentacles of a Portuguese Man o’ War can grow up to 30 feet and can expand out to about 100 feet.
Their stings are just as powerful as the Box Jellyfish and cause welts on any exposed skin.
When to Expect Jellyfish in Hawai’i.
Jellyfish influxes in Hawai’i occur monthly about eight to ten days after a full moon.
Jellyfish invasions are often seen on the island of Oahu on beaches facing the southern side, like Waikiki, Ala Moana Beach Park, Hanauma Bay, and the Waianae Coast.
The Hawaiian island of Maui can also be invaded by jellyfish, but Oahu is the go-to island for jellyfish.
Beaches will post signs to warn visitors, but private-type secret beaches may not have warnings, so keep your eyes peeled.
You must head to the warning signs on the beach or local news announcements of a jellyfish influx to avoid any dangerous encounters.
Signs and Symptoms of Jellyfish Stings in Dogs.
Dogs that have been stung by a jellyfish can experience one or many symptoms, including but not limited to:
- Burning pain
- Changes in heart rhythm
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive drooling
- Swelling in the face
- Red or swollen skin
It’s important to note that some of these signs and symptoms may not show up right away, as many signs and symptoms from a jellyfish sting can take anywhere from two minutes and up to three hours to appear.
If your dog has suffered a sting, and is experiencing any of the following: difficulty breathing, experiencing loss of coordination, having muscle spasms, has a swollen tongue or has swelling around their mouth, has several stings on them, or is vomiting, then it is highly recommended to get them to the nearest vet as soon as possible.
What to do and What not to do if your dog is stung by a jellyfish.
If you confirm your dog has suffered a jellyfish sting, you need to jump into action with some pet first aid to help your dog right away.
First, flush the affected area with white vinegar.
White vinegar prevents the stingers from releasing more toxins into your dog’s system and keeps any stingers that have not released toxins from releasing any.
Next, carefully remove any tentacles/stingers with a pair of tweezers. DO NOT scrape away any of the stingers.
The pressure placed by scraping will cause the release of more toxins into your dog’s system.
It’s recommended to wear gloves when you are removing the tentacles to help avoid suffering any stings during this process.
Next, apply heat to the affected area once all tentacles/stingers are removed.
Believe it or not, using a cold compress will make matters worse and expand the infected area.
DO NOT urinate, flush the area with fresh water or seawater, use soft drinks, shaving cream, apply meat tenderizer or use any alcohol.
These “remedies” are just “old wives’ tales,” and researchers at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa have proven that they do not work and can make matters worse.
Finally, take your dog to their veterinarian or the nearest emergency veterinary hospital for a complete evaluation.
Continue to monitor your dog for signs of shock until you arrive at the veterinary hospital, and the staff has taken over.
If you can safely do so, try to scoop up the remains of the jellyfish into a ziplock bag or take a picture with your smartphone, so the veterinarian can identify which type of jellyfish sting they need to treat for.
Prevention is ALWAYS key.
As a responsible pet parent, preventing and protecting your dog from the risk of getting stung by a jellyfish is always a key and top priority.
Before heading out to the beach, monitor jellyfish activity via news outlets, online, television, or radio.
Pay attention to beach warning signs and any verbal warnings by beach lifeguards or beach officials.
For protection, rub petroleum jelly, like Vaseline, on your dog’s exposed skin or lightly coated areas around the eyes, nose, snout, belly, groin, and testicles (if your dog is an un-neutered male), and paw pads.
If you see a jellyfish on the beach or in the water, DO NOT touch it, DO NOT pick it up with your bare hands, and DO NOT let your dog get near it.
Go to the nearest lifeguard or beach official and let them know so they can take proper action.
Take a DIY Jellyfish Sting Kit with you to the beach to have the tools you need to help your dog with a jellyfish sting.
If the veterinarian instructs you to give your dog some Benadryl before you get to the vet’s hospital, punch a hole with the safety pin in one gel cap and squeeze the liquid inside your dog’s mouth.
This will make giving your dog the medication easier than struggling to get a pill down their throat.
Consult with your current veterinarian about the recommended dose for YOUR DOG.
As a bonus, the jellyfish sting kit can be used for humans too.
So the next time you head out to the beach for fun with your pup, don’t forget to check for those pesky jellyfish and have a safe and paw-some beach day with your dog.