Pet Health
dealing with nettle stings

Dealing with Nettle Stings on Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Written by Steph McCulloch


If you notice your dog pawing at their mouth, displaying itchy skin, or rubbing their face, there's a high probability they've been stung by a stinging nettle plant. This encounter with the pesky plant can result in a nettle sting, also known as a nettle rash.
Dog walking through leaves


As the summer season approaches, both you and your canine companion are probably equally excited about the prospects of going on long walks and holidays together. However, the presence of nettles on trails or hiking routes can pose certain risks. If you notice your dog pawing at their mouth, displaying itchy skin, or rubbing their face, there's a high probability they've been stung by a stinging nettle plant. This encounter with the pesky plant can result in a nettle sting, also known as a nettle rash.

Nettle stings on dogs are a common occurrence, especially during the warmer months of the year. The sting is caused by tiny, hollow nettle hairs found on the leaves and stems of the plant, which contain a mixture of major persistent pain-inducing toxins including toxic substances such as oxalic acid and tartaric acid that cause a painful reaction when they come into contact with the skin. This can result in contact dermatitis in dogs.

When a dog brushes past a nettle bed, these hairs can get lodged in their fur, causing a sting. The most common signs of nettle stings in dogs include swelling, redness, itching, and pain at the site of the sting. In some cases, dogs may also develop hives, which can spread to other areas of the body, indicating allergic reactions to the toxic plant.

If your dog exhibits severe signs like difficulty in breathing or dilated pupils, it is important to seek immediate veterinary advice. All Waggel members get free access to 24/7 online vet care with Joii, completely free of charge. Through a consultation, a vet can advise you on the safest next steps. Signing up is easy, just read our blog post.

Symptoms and treatment for nettle stings on dogs

close up of dogs eyes

Nettle stings can be very uncomfortable for your pet and even result in Nettle poisoning. These stings can target any part of a dog’s body including their paws, belly, and other more sensitive areas such as their face and ears.

The clinical symptoms of nettle stings on dogs can vary in severity depending on the individual dog's reaction to the sting. If your dog is stung by a nettle, they'll probably try to lick or scratch the affected area, which can cause further irritation. In severe cases, dogs may develop neuromuscular signs or autonomic signs, showing symptoms of anaphylactic shock, which require immediate veterinary attention.

The basic advice for owners includes a few different options for treating nettle stings on dogs. For mild reactions, you can apply a cool compress or rinse the area with cool water to soothe the affected area. Applying a topical anti-itch or anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce inflammation and irritation. Additionally, over-the-counter antihistamines with antihistamine properties can help manage the symptoms. However, it's important to consult your veterinarian before administering any medication to your pet.

How to treat nettle stings on dogs naturally

golden retriever in field

Home remedies such as applying a paste made from bicarbonate of soda and water or bathing your pet in oat baths can offer supportive care by reducing itching and inflammation. Apple cider vinegar rinses can also help to soothe irritated skin. However, these remedies should complement, not replace, veterinary advice. If your dog struggles with serious health conditions, it’s best to consult your vet instead of attempting to administer treatment yourself.


Dog with stick in mouth in forest

Early diagnosis is key in treating nettle stings effectively. Though it may appear as a simple itch, nettle rash can cause severe signs in dogs and even lead to anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal.

If you notice your dog behaving unusually, suffering from redness of the skin, or pawing at their mouth due to a run-in with a bushel of nettles, we recommend seeking immediate veterinary attention.

Staying alert to your dog’s health and having a pet insurance policy in place can help prevent future stresses and worries. At Waggel, we provide Lifetime policies to protect your pet throughout their entire life. By becoming a Waggel member you’ll also get 
exclusive access to Joii so you can speak to a vet whenever you need to.

Owning a pet is both weird and wonderful. Navigating through the highs and lows can be challenging, but educating yourself on potential issues, like the harmful effects of a common nettle, can make a difference. This includes, for example, reading our posts on 
pesky ticksear mites, and how to look after your pet if they have an accident and require antiseptic cream .

We also have a range of puppy-specific posts and answer some of the most frequently asked questions such as ‘why is my puppy breathing fast whilst sleeping?’ and ‘why is my dog licking their lips?’. Owning a pet is both weird and wonderful so don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.


Dog laying in grass looking at camera

What are nettle stings on dogs?

Nettle stings on dogs occur when a dog comes into contact with stinging nettle plants, releasing a toxin that causes a burning or itching sensation on the skin.

How do you treat nettle stings on dogs?

Treatment for nettle stings on dogs can include antihistamines, corticosteroids, and pain relievers. Home remedies such as applying a baking soda paste or using a cool compress can also help alleviate symptoms.

Can nettle stings on dogs be prevented?

Yes, by avoiding areas with a presence of nettles and keeping your yard free of these plants. You can also use protective clothing or pet-safe repellents to protect your dog while walking in areas with stinging nettles.


When should I take my dog to the vet for nettle stings?

You should take your dog to the vet if they experience severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, vomiting, or excessive swelling. Additionally, if you are unsure of how to treat your dog's nettle stings or if their symptoms persist or worsen, seek professional medical attention for your pet.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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