Are Centipedes Poisonous to Dogs?: A Complete Guide to Toxic Dangers


When you consider things that are poisonous to dogs, your mind might automatically jump to onions, garlic, and other human foods that are dangerous for our furry friends. But there are lots of other things that are toxic to dogs, including some insects.

This can be a worry because so many dogs are very inquisitive while they are out on their walks, with their noses pressed to the ground seeking out anything that they could possibly eat.

A lot of bugs are perfectly safe to your dog, but some bugs, such as centipedes and millipedes can be a cause for concern. The majority of centipedes and millipedes that your dog may encounter will not be poisonous, however they could cause an allergic reaction which can be dangerous for your dog.

So, if you are worried about your dog encountering centipedes and millipedes while out on a walk, then you are in the right place. In this complete guide we’re taking a look at everything you need to know when it comes to your dog and centipedes/millipedes. Including what to do should your dog find one, and the specific centipedes that can be harmful. So let’s get started.

Are House Centipedes Poisonous?

As we mentioned earlier, most centipedes are not poisonous to dogs. By ‘most’ we were referring to the fact that a specific type of centipede, known as a house centipede, is not poisonous to dogs.

You might be confused as to how we can generalize a single type of centipede to meaning that the ‘majority’ of centipedes are not poisonous, but 90% of the time the only centipede that your dog will encounter is the house centipede.

For most dogs, an encounter with a house centipede will cause no harm. Even if they get bitten, stung, or even eat the bug. However, some dogs may have an adverse reaction to the venom in this bug’s sting, so it is okay to be worried if your dog has had an interaction with a house centipede.

When you hear the word venom, it can be easy to associate it with pain and immediate death. But the venom in the sting of a house centipede is not toxic, in fact it is very mild. For comparison, the venom in a house centipede’s sting is very similar to the sting of a wasp or a bee. This reference might also help you realize why it could be a cause for concern if your dog does get stung by a house centipede.

You only need to look on the internet, or any form of social media, to find hundreds of photographs of dogs that have had unfortunate run-ins with a bee or a wasp. While some human beings have allergic reactions to a bee sting, it is much more common in dogs. In fact, the majority of dogs will experience some sort of swelling or irritation at the site of a bee sting.

This allergic reaction is not as common in dogs when it comes to the sting/bite of a house centipede. But, some dogs will experience the same allergic reaction. So if your dog has previously had a bad reaction to a bee or wasp sting, you are right to be concerned if they come into contact with a house centipede.

What Centipedes can be Poisonous?

We mentioned that the house centipede is just one type of centipede, and that there are plenty of others that could be poisonous to your dog.

In most cases you won’t need to worry about these other species as it is highly unlikely that you or your dog will ever come into contact with it.

To give you peace of mind, here’s a list of the most dangerous centipedes in the world, along with the areas that they live:

  • Scolopendra Cataracta (Southeast Asia)
  • Scolopendra Galapagoensis (The Galápagos Islands)
  • Scolopendra Gigantea (The Caribbean and South America)
  • Scolopendra Heros (Southwest USA, Northern Mexico)
  • Scolopendra Polymorpha (Southwest USA, Northern Mexico)
  • Scutigera Coleoptrata (Mexico, the Mediterranean)
  • Giant Scolopendridae (Australia)
  • Scolopendra Cingulata (The Mediterranean)
  • Scolopendra Morsitans (Australia)
  • Scolopendra Subspinipes (Indian Ocean, Asia, South & Central America, and the Caribbean)

How can Centipedes be Dangerous?

As you already know, centipedes can be dangerous, but a lot of people struggle to understand how. Traditionally when you think about poisonous insects then images of spiders, and scorpions jump into your head (even though both of these creatures are part of the arachnid family, not the insect family).

At school, we are taught about centipedes, but they are very rarely referred to as a dangerous animal. But in reality, centipedes are venomous creatures, so in the right (or wrong) circumstances, they can cause a lot of damage.

All centipedes carry venom, even house centipedes. But the amount of harm that they can cause from this venom differs from type to type. The level of danger in a centipede’s venom also tends to differ depending on where you are in the world. You only need to check out the list we gave you earlier to see that there is a common correlation between the most dangerous centipedes in the world and certain areas across the globe.

It can be easy to think of centipedes as cute insects with 100 legs, but in reality they are hunters who use their venom to incapacitate their prey. A centipede is never going to actively hunt out your dog, but if they feel threatened it is likely that the centipede will lash out and release this venom.

As we have said, in most cases, this venom will not be that harmful to your dog. But if your dog does have an allergic reaction to the venom, it can cause a lot of discomfort which is why it is best to contact your vet if you suspect that your dog has been bitten or stung.

Are Millipedes poisonous?

Aside from the obvious difference in the number of legs that they have, centipedes and millipedes are very similar. So, yes, millipedes can be poisonous. However, the same principle applies to millipedes as it does to centipedes.

By that, we mean that some millipedes are poisonous, but any millipedes that your dog is likely to encounter are likely not to be poisonous. However, your dog might still have a nasty allergic reaction depending on if they are allergic to the venom. So, if your dog has a bad reaction to a millipede bite or sting, contact your vet.

However, the chances of your dog being harmed by a millipede are much slimmer than the chances of them being stung by a centipede. You might expect millipedes to be the more aggressive insect as they are larger, but in fact, it is centipedes that are more likely to lash out. When encountering a potential threat, millipedes are much more likely to curl up in a ball and freeze than lash out. So the chances of your dog being stung by a millipede are very slim.

But if your dog does get attacked by a millipede and appears to have an adverse reaction, you should get into contact with your veterinarian immediately. The reaction is unlikely to be too dangerous, but it will be very uncomfortable, so it is best to get help early.

What happens if a Centipede stings my Dog?

In most cases, you will be able to tell that your dog has been stung by something while out on your walk as they will usually yelp.

Some breeds in particular can have very dramatic reactions to a sting, so you will usually be able to tell that something is wrong straight away. If your dog is a lot tougher, then you might not even notice that they have been stung unless they have an allergic reaction.

If you know that your dog has been stung by something, it is very important that you observe them carefully from that moment onward. Although most allergic reactions cause discomfort rather than harm, it is best to keep an eye just in case your dog has a very bad reaction.

Some dogs will not have a reaction, but a lot will. So here are some of the signs of an allergic reaction that you should look out for if your dog has been stung by a house centipede:

  • Swelling of the area that has been stung, or the ears, eyelids, and face.
  • Excessive itching and scratching in the same area.
  • Red, inflamed, or sore looking skin.
  • Itchy ears or face.
  • Sudden onset of snorting and sneezing.
  • Vomiting, and Diarrhea.
  • Itchy or weepy eyes.
  • Constant and persistent licking of the same area.
  • Hives and red marks on their skin.
  • Chronic ear infections.

While we are speaking of these symptoms in relation to the sting of a house centipede, it is possible that your dog might also have some of these reactions if they are stung by one of the poisonous centipedes that we mentioned earlier.

So if you live in any of the areas where poisonous centipedes are known to live, it is best to take your dog to the vets immediately.

What happens if my dog eats a Centipede?

At the beginning of this guide we mentioned that dogs will eat almost anything that they encounter when out on a walk. This might have led you to believe that your dog is at risk if they eat a centipede, but, generally speaking, no harm will come to your dog if they eat a centipede. No matter whether that centipede was alive or dead.

Yes, centipedes are poisonous, and, yes, they do have venom. However, house centipedes only have very mild venom within their body. So, it is highly unlikely that that venom is going to penetrate into your dog’s bloodstream simply by them eating the bug. There is only a real chance of this happening if your dog were to eat one of the very poisonous centipedes which we mentioned earlier.

However, it is still best to be cautious. If the centipede was alive when your dog ate it, there is a chance that your dog was stung in the process, so it is best to watch out for the same signs of an allergic reaction that we mentioned earlier. Additionally, you should also watch out for:

  • Agitation and ‘off’ behavior
  • Convulsions or tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

But, in most cases, your dog will be perfectly fine after eating a centipede or millipede.

What you Should do if your Dog is Stung by a Centipede

We’ve looked at all the things that might happen if your dog gets stung by a centipede, but we haven’t really covered how you should react. Even though we know that, in most cases, a centipede sting will bring no serious harm to your dog, it can still be easy to panic.

After all, our dogs are our babies, and there is nothing worse than seeing them hurt or in discomfort. So, if you see your dog playing with a centipede or a millipede, this is what you should do.

  1. Move your Dog away – If you see your dog with a centipede, you should immediately pull your dog away. If your dog has already picked up the centipede in its mouth, you should attempt to remove it in the safest way possible. If the centipede is not dead, then there is a good chance that you will be stung in the process, but this should bring you no harm.
  2. Take a Deep Breath – In so many points of crisis, one of the steps is to take a deep breath and stay calm. The same principle applies in this situation. We understand that this can be a scary time, but you shouldn’t panic because your dog will pick up on this which could cause them to become anxious too. Assess the situation, and check your dog over for any puncture marks or early signs of an allergic reaction. If you suspect that your dog has been stung or bit, then it is best to head home straight away.
  3. Call a Professional – If your dog has immediately started to display signs of an allergic reaction then you should contact your vet right away and tell them of the situation.
  4. Keep an eye on your Dog – Should your dog not show any immediate signs of an allergic reaction, then there is no need to ring a professional right away. Instead, you should take your dog home and continue to monitor their behavior and symptoms from there for the next 24 hours. If you suspect something isn’t right, you should contact your veterinarian.
  5. Give your Dog Attention – Even if your dog doesn’t appear to have any allergic reactions, they still deserve a fuss for this unpleasant encounter that they have experienced. So give your dog a treat for being good, and give them lots of cuddles and attention, as being stung could have been a traumatic experience for them.

While treatment is good, prevention is even better. So let’s take a look at some of the steps that you should take to prevent your dog being stung by a centipede.

How to protect your Dog from Centipedes

While you might encounter a centipede on a walk, there is also the chance that you might encounter one at home. You do not monitor your dog as closely when they are at home, so it would be possible for them to be stung in this situation and for you to not even realize. This is why it is always good to put some preventative measures in place to avoid having centipedes near your home, putting your dog at risk.

One way to protect your dog from running into centipedes at home is to ensure that you have no space in your garden that might be an attractive habitat to them. Generally speaking, centipedes like to live in dark and moist areas.

So if you want to prevent centipedes living near your home, you will have to ensure that there are no areas like this in your home. So try to direct light to dark areas, and try to dry them out as much as possible if you do not want centipedes living there.

As well as outside your home, centipedes also often like to live inside your home. In particular, basements are a safe haven for centipedes because they are usually dark and often damp too.

Additionally, they are full of hiding places which centipedes absolutely love. To avoid attracting centipedes to your basement it is best to make the space as light as possible. Open windows, and remove any potential hiding places as this will deter centipedes from living in your basement.

Finally, you can also prevent your dog from encountering any centipedes by up keeping general maintenance in your home. Centipedes adore cracks and crevices in walls, so if you have any gaps in brickwork in your home that you have put off fixing, you should do this right away.

Centipedes also love wood piles and general piles of mess, so never let rubbish build up, and ensure that you stack your wood neatly on a rack to avoid centipedes being attracted to it.

Summary

In short, in most cases a centipede sting will not be poisonous to your dog. Neither will the sting of a millipede. All centipedes carry venom, but the types of centipede that your dog is likely to encounter only have venom that is similar to a bee sting.

So, if your dog does get stung they may experience some discomfort, but the sting should not be that dangerous. However, it is always best to contact your veterinarian if you have any worries.

Kerry White

Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.

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