Friday, July 1, 2011

The Very Real and Threatening Danger of Fire Ants!

I first saw this post on the Scratchings n Sniffings Blog.  The original posting is from an Alachua County resident and pet owner.  Alachua County is in Central Florida, near Gainesville, and less than two hours from Jacksonville/St. Augustine where I live. I know fire ants and I exterminate them as soon as I notice them. But they crop up pretty quickly and can be missed in grassier areas. I know that I hate them, but I did not know all that is described below. But as the Blogger writes thru her own tragedy, better to post in the hopes that it will prevent another.
We bring our pets to the vet and we listen and learn about ways to protect them from the outdoor and indoor dangers to pets. What to make sure to keep them from, plants that could make them sick or potentially kill them. The dangers of Fleas and Ticks and Worms…. Has your vet ever warned you about the dangers of FIRE ANTS? 
Until very recently I had no idea how vicious and dangerous FIRE ANTS were to our pets. I knew that they would bite and cause the pets to be very itchy and enough bites could make them feel sick however, I had no clue they KILL. Yes, I said KILL your PETS. I am writing to warn EVERYONE to keep a close eye on your dogs and cats that roam free outside. Even if only for a few minutes. 
Last night my daughter called me all upset because Fire Ants consumed her puppy. I rushed over and we brushed off what we thought was all of the ants. I sprayed the entire dogs area and around the house. When I went back inside Chaos looked very sick. I told my daughter he didn’t look good something was wrong. Chaos was just laying there in the corner of the couch. We assumed the bites made him sick to his stomach. Later after he became violently ill we knew there was more to the story. We called and found a pet rescue friend that met us half way and we worked on Chaos for an hour… I am going to tell you what we learned. TOO LATE for Chaos however, perhaps OUR story will save another. 
Fire Ants are vicious little creatures. They not only bite they sting and leave stingers. These stingers are full of poison (I didn’t know they were poison). Even though we got the ants off, they left these stingers and the poison inside the stingers kept injecting into Chaos little body. The lady showed us what we thought were dirt specks as he enjoyed rolling in the dirt after a bath were in fact Ant stingers. We rushed to get them all out. However, with all our efforts Chaos passed away. 
PLEASE watch your pets closely, if you see fire ant mounds in your yard destroy them right away. Fire Ants emit a chemical signal when they are in danger that alerts the other ants to attack. If your dog is attached IMMEDIATELY REMOVE him from the dangerous area and follow the instructions below:
1. Brush all the ants off the dog, remember to check his eyes, ears and mouth DO NOT USE A WATER HOSE this will make the ants bite down harder, be SURE to get the stingers out. 
2. Apply after-bite liquid or moisten a cotton ball with pure ammonia and dab onto the ant   bites to relieve itch
3. Mix baking soda and water into a paste and apply to the affected area(s) for 20 minutes;
4. Wash the ant bites with antibacterial soap for two minutes
5. Apply anti-itch cream or spray like Benadryl. 
6. Apply cold compresses to reduce itching and swelling

If your dog seems lethargic do not assume it is because he had just been through a lot… GET HIM TO A VET. Watch his gums… are they pink or are they turning white… Chaos gums where white as paper by the time we found a vet to see him.  The bites could have been too much for his body to handle. 
If you have done all the above and everything looks good just make sure to wash the bite areas with antibacterial soap a couple times a day, apply betadine to the bites, then anti itch spray  or cream. Then apply cool compresses to the area during these treatment times. Watch for infection. Staff is a common infection with these types of bites. If it is red, swelling and there is discharge… Visit your vet. 
Be sure to have all the above materials available at all times if you are a pet owner. Your immediate fire aid care is what will save your pets life. Always be cautious of ant mounds, especially after rain. Always have an emergency stash of at least $100-$150 for an emergency vet as they will refuse to see you without full payment. 

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