Ireland is a relatively pest-free country. There are no poisonous snakes, venomous spiders or other nasties like scorpions or toxic jelly fish. In the summer months, however, we do have our fair share of stinging insects such as midges, mosquitoes, bees and wasps. These creatures generally cause no more than a mild irritation, but on rare occasions, they can cause a genuine risk to life.
Lola suffered a surprise attack by wasps
A few years ago, in the summer of 2011, Lola suffered a rare, major, life-threatening attack from wasps. Linda had been walking with Lola in Dodder Park, in Rathfarnham, a popular south Dublin area for exercising dogs. Lola was just seven months old, weighing four kilograms, around the size of a typical cat. She was an adventurous puppy, enjoying sniffing around bushes and exploring the undergrowth. It was a peaceful, sunny afternoon, but suddenly, Linda heard the sound of Lola squealing, and she quickly realised she was facing an emergency.
Lola was hidden in dense undergrowth at the time. Linda knew from her squeals and yapping that she was in trouble, but she couldn’t reach her, so she called for help. A passer by rushed up, and managed to push his way through briars and brambles towards the dog. She seemed to have fallen into a two-foot deep hole, so it was not easy to reach her. It was during this intitial rescue attempt that the real cause of the problem became apparent: Lola had disturbed a wasp nest, and the angry insects had gone onto the attack. The little dog’s face and body were covered in stinging insects, and they hovered around her in a cloud, stinging anyone who came close. The brave rescuer was able to grab Lola and back out of the undergrowth holding her, but the wasps kept attacking. Everyone who tried to help was stung, and poor Lola was covered in crawling wasps, which were stinging her over and over. By now, Lola had gone into shock: she’d stopped squealing, and she lay there, lapsing into unconsciousness.
An emergency visit to the vet was needed to save her life
Linda’s husband picked her up and they all ran to the car, driving her up to Nutgrove Veterinary Hospital which was less than a mile away. The on-duty vets and nurses moved in to help, but it wasn’t easy: they were stung themselves as they used insecticidal sprays and rolled up newspapers to tackle the flying, buzzing, stinging insects. Lola had gone into anaphylactic shock and was virtually comatose by now. The veterinary team had to battle to save her life with intravenous fluids and medications while at the same time trying to remove the wasps that were still clinging to her face and body, and avoiding being stung themselves.
Lola was stung by nearly 200 wasps
It took an hour to bring the situation under control, with over 150 dead wasps being counted at the vet clinic alone. The vets found nearly 200 stings on Lola, and Linda was stung thirty times. There must have been literally thousands of wasps around the wasp nest: Lola was lucky to be lifted out alive and without the prompt expert help of the veterinary hospital, she would have died.
Lola was kept in hospital overnight, staying on a drip with potent anti-inflammatory medication to help her to recover. It took her a few more days of resting quietly at home to get back to normal.
Lola has gone on to become a normal, lively, affectionate dog, but she has never forgotten the terrifying series of events in the summer of 2011. She’s cautious about going far from Linda during walks, and if she ever hears a buzzing insect, she’s back by her owner’s side. One immersion in a cloud of stinging wasps is more than enough for a lifetime.
- Wasp stings are usually more annoying than dangerous, for pets as in people
- Multiple wasp stings can be genuinely life threatening
- Urgent veterinary attention is needed to save an animal’s life in such situations