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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Jellyfish Stings View In Dogs

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

The warm, salty waters of the East, West, Chesapeake bar, and Gulf coast United States are home to a variety of boneless sea creatures collectively referred to as jellyfish.


Most jellyfish stings are more of a nuisance than a danger, but they are painful around the eyes, nose, mouth, feet, or hairless abdomen. The skin can turn red and swell or develop hives. Despite the discomfort, most jellyfish stings can be treated with first aid.


Stings come from swimming in jellyfish inhabited water and coming in contact with a jellyfish tentacle.


Diagnosis can be made by combining symptoms and the action such as swimming in an ocean where jellyfish may be present.


  1. Wear rubber gloves - If you touch the tentacles of the jellyfish with your bare hands you can also be stung. If you disturb bits and pieces of the tentacles, the can release more stinging nematocysts.
  2. Use rubbing alcohol - When the tentacle pieces remain in contact with your pet's skin, brushing them away with a towel or even rinsing them away with water will protect you from stings, but it can prompt a release of even more stinging cells, which will sting you dog many more times.

    Instead, pour rubbing alcohol (70% or more) on the tentacles, which will stabilize the nematocysts and prevent them from triggering more stings.
  3. Try tape - You can also try using sticky tape to remove jellyfish pieces from your dogs fur. Apply the sticky side to the tentacle and when it sticks, lift it off.
  4. Remove remains - If the jellyfish remains are just stuck in the fur and aren't touching the skin, pour some sand over them, use a towel to remove them, or pour sea water over them. Don't use freshwater, it causes them to release more toxins.
  5. Give him Benadryl - An over the counter antihistamine like Benadryl will help take the edge off the allergic reaction and calm down the swelling in the skin. The liquid form of Benadryl usually comes in a dose of 12.5mg per teaspoon - pills are usually 25mg each. Pets will need 1mg per pound of body weight every 6 - 8 hours.
  6. Make a baking soda paste - Pack the sting sites with a paste made from baking soda and water to soothe the sting. If your dog suffered multiple stings, add baking soda to cool water and bathe him in the solution, letting him soak for 10 minutes (or as long as he will hold still).
  7. Alternate cold and heat - Cold compresses (ice wrapped in a cold, wet washcloth) help numb the sting and reduce swelling. Apply them for 10 - 30 minutes. Then, alternate with a towel covered hot compress, 5 minutes on and 5 minutes off until it cools, to bring healing blood back into the area and flush out the poison. Alternate cold and hot packs for 20 minutes.

Jellyfish venom is made of protein and is destroyed by anything that digests or breaks down protein. This principal is what makes meat tenderizer so effective as a home remedy for bee stings, since the active ingredient, papain, digests protein. Meat tenderizer will also work for a jellyfish sting. You can add a bit of water to make a paste and apply it to the inflamed area.

Papain is derived from papaya, and many people are now using fresh papaya as a more effective remedy for jellyfish stings. Applying a slice of the fresh fruit to a sting relieves the pain instantly. This is especially helpful for dogs who have been stung in the mouth where a paste or a dab of ammonia won't work.


Dogs who swim in jellyfish inhabited waters need some protection. Spread petroleum jelly on any exposed skin, including the footpads, nose leather, abdomen, testicles, and eye rims to keep the venom from penetrating to the skin.


Once you have taken the recommended steps, no follow-up care should be necessary. Always ask your vet if you are unsure of the outcome.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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