Jan 27
2 dogs on the rocks

Marine Stingers And Your Dog

When taking your fur kid to the beach this summer know what first aid is needed for your dog in the event of a jellyfish sting, and equally important, how to avoid the stings all together.

How do jellyfish sting?

The tentacles of the jellyfish attach to the dog and release venom causing a painful sting. Even tentacles or dead jellies on the beach can still sting for days.

Luckily for dogs, their fur coat and hard paw pads seem to provide protection from stings, but it is possible they can be stung by stepping on, biting or licking one.

What do I do?

In the event of an encounter with the face, you need to get them to the local veterinarian as soon as possible in case of a severe reaction. If they are stung in less critical areas, you can do some first aid first. However, if you see panting, swelling, vocalisation or difficulty breathing don’t delay in getting your buddy to the nearest vet!

The first aid needed depends on the creature involved:

Box Jellyfish (including Irukandji species)

Where – Far north Queensland and North Western Australia

First Aid – Vinegar. This stops the tentacles that haven’t released toxin from releasing any, but there is controversy as to whether this can actually make the tentacles that have released the toxin, release more. Nevertheless, vinegar is still the current recommendation for these.

Blue Bottles

Where – Beaches a bit further south but all around Australia

First Aid – No vinegar for these guys, recommendations by Australia Surf Life Saving are to wash the area well with sea water, and then immerse the area in hot (but tolerable to you) water or if not available, ice (wrapped in a towel). Why does hot water help the pain? Nobody knows!

Don’t know what type of stinger?

If you’re in warmer waters, and you’re not sure what has stung your dog, choose the vinegar to be safe and call the local Veterinarian.

What not to do?

Let’s bust some myths here, don’t rub the area, apply urine (gross!), soft drink, alcohol or fresh water. These could potentially cause the release of additional toxins.


Speak to lifeguards and locals for information on current conditions. If you are going to you take your dog for a swim, and it’s not safe for you to go in, then it’s best to apply this rule to your dog also. You can also reduce risk of a sting occurring by teaching your dog commands such as ‘leave’, and by paying full attention to their activities on the beach.

About The Author

Claire is a QLD graduate with 19 years experience as a neighbourhood Veterinarian in Australia and the UK. Animal lover and the founder of VetChat, born from a passion to help pet carers everywhere access trusted advice earlier, for healthier, happier pets. Grateful to be carer to her beautiful Red-dog.