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Ask the Vet: Centipede Bite Hurts Like Bee Sting

Dr. Lee Pickett on

Q: Panda, our black and white tuxedo cat who also responds to the more fitting name of Pandemonium, plays with the centipedes in our bathroom. If she eats one, could it harm her?

A: No, but eating too many of them could result in stomach upset.

The greater concern is that centipedes bite, and the bite feels like a bee sting. Centipedes don't actually use their mouthparts to bite, but their first pair of legs has pincers called forcipules that puncture ants, cockroaches, worms and other small creatures, injecting venom that paralyzes them.

The venom of the small, delicate centipedes so common in damp areas of the home isn't dangerous to a cat, but if Panda tangles with a centipede's forcipules, the wound will hurt, and she'll need to see her veterinarian for wound care and pain relief. Perhaps that will teach her not to play with centipedes.

On the other hand, the venom of the large tropical centipedes that some people keep as pets is very dangerous to cats, dogs and humans. If anyone in your family has one of these large tropical centipedes, keep Panda far away from it.

If you want to get rid of your bathroom centipedes, use a piece of paper to herd them into a glass, cover the glass with the paper, and escort the centipedes outside for release into the wild.

 

Q: Rowdy, our 9-year-old cocker spaniel, suddenly started squinting. His eye is bloodshot, the surface looks foggy, and I think the pupil is larger than in the other eye. What is wrong with his eye? Will it resolve on its own, or should he see his veterinarian?

A: Whenever you see any change in your pet's eye(s), you should get him to the veterinarian immediately. Eyes can deteriorate rapidly, and Rowdy's vision is at stake.

The clinical signs you describe are typical of glaucoma, which induces pain and blindness if not treated immediately.

Glaucoma results from increased pressure within the eye caused by impaired drainage of the fluid in the front of the eye.

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