We all know how our furry friends can be curious little explorers, sniffing the ground and gobbling up anything they find. This includes creepy crawlies like centipedes and millipedes, which may appear poisonous and menacing. But are these insects truly harmful to dogs? Can they bite or cause harm if ingested? Let’s delve into these questions and shed light on the potential dangers.
Are Centipedes Poisonous to Dogs?
The good news is that most centipedes your dog encounters won’t pose a fatal threat or be toxic. However, certain centipedes and millipedes can release a defensive spray that might trigger allergies or even deliver bites comparable to bee stings.
It’s important to note that while the majority of centipedes are harmless, there are exceptions worldwide. Later on, we’ll provide a list of the most dangerous centipedes and millipedes to watch out for.
House Centipedes: A Mild Concern
For the most part, common house centipedes won’t cause severe health issues in dogs. However, it’s crucial to remain cautious as some dogs may exhibit an allergic reaction to their bites.
House centipedes possess a mild form of venom, similar to the strength of a bee or wasp sting. While this venom is typically not harmful to most dogs, some can experience adverse effects.
The Case with Millipedes
Similar to centipedes, millipedes can also pose a risk to dogs, depending on the species and individual susceptibility to allergic reactions. However, millipedes are generally more passive, opting to curl up rather than attack when facing a perceived threat.
Although most urban millipedes are non-toxic, exceptions exist. Later in this guide, we’ll provide a list of dangerous millipedes and centipedes to keep on your radar.
Handling a Centipede Sting
If your dog gets stung by a centipede, closely monitor them for signs of an allergic reaction. Look out for itching, scratching, hives, swelling on the face or body, redness, inflamed skin, changes in toilet habits, vomiting, sneezing, itchy ears, chronic ear infections, runny eyes, or excessive licking. Keep in mind that certain centipedes, like the Scolopendra variety, can cause more serious and painful complications than house centipedes.
What if Your Dog Eats a Centipede?
If your dog ingests a centipede, whether dead or alive, the mild venom is unlikely to enter their bloodstream. However, it’s important to remain vigilant and watch for any signs of sickness. Look for symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, agitation, tremors, convulsions, breathing problems, or diarrhea.
To determine whether your dog ate a centipede or a millipede, take note of their physical appearance. Centipedes are flat with one leg per body segment, while millipedes are cylindrical with two legs per body segment.
Centipede Dangers: Context is Key
While centipedes are indeed venomous, the venom’s potency varies greatly among species and geographical locations. In reality, centipedes mostly inject venom into their prey, such as spiders, silverfish, cockroaches, or ants. For dogs, a centipede sting may cause discomfort but generally does not result in serious harm.
The Scolopendra family, including the Texas redheaded centipede, the Amazonian giant centipede, and the Vietnamese centipede, are the most aggressive and potentially dangerous species. These hefty centipedes can induce intense pain for several days following a sting.
The Most Dangerous Centipedes and Millipedes
To provide a reference, here’s a list of the most hazardous centipedes and millipedes along with their respective habitats:
- Giant Scolopendridae (Australia)
- Scolopendra Cataracta (Southeast Asia)
- Scolopendra Cingulata (Mediterranean Area)
- Scolopendra Galapagoensis (Galapagos Islands)
- Scolopendra Gigantea (South America, the Caribbean)
- Scolopendra Heros (Southwestern United States, Northern Mexico)
- Scolopendra Morsitans (Australia)
- Scolopendra Polymorpha (Southwestern United States, Northern Mexico)
- Scolopendra Subspinipes (Indian Ocean, Tropical and Subtropical Asia, South & Central America, the Caribbean)
- Scutigera Coleoptrata (Mexico, the Mediterranean)
Are Centipedes More Dangerous to Small Dogs?
While there’s no concrete scientific evidence to support the claim that centipedes are more poisonous to small dogs than larger breeds, owners of small dogs should exercise more caution. Due to their size, small dogs require less venom to experience fatal consequences. However, be aware that the story may vary for each dog. If your small dog has shown allergies to other insect bites, seek veterinary assistance promptly.
Reader’s Personal Experience
One of our readers shared an incident involving her dog and a centipede. Her pit bull, Thea, encountered a centipede while playing with a furry teddy bear. Thankfully, Thea didn’t ingest the centipede, and there were no signs of stings on her snout. However, the experience raised the question of potential harm if Thea had eaten or been stung by the centipede.
Though centipedes and millipedes may appear creepy, their appearance is perhaps the worst thing about them. The likely outcome of your dog encountering a house centipede is a mild sting or possible allergic reaction, but overall, your pet should be fine. Always monitor your dog for any allergic reactions after insect encounters and promptly seek veterinary care if necessary.
Please note that this guide is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian for accurate information and guidance. Stay calm and take necessary precautions to keep your beloved pets safe from potential hazards.
Remember, prevention is vital. By making your home and yard less attractive to centipedes and millipedes, you can protect your dogs from any unnecessary encounters.