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Dog Bee Stings: 10 Things to Do if Your Dog Gets Stung by a Bee

A dog with a bee flying nearby

Nobody wants to deal with a bee sting, including your pup. But as sunny weather entices you to enjoy more summer activities with your dog, stay vigilant. When you spend more time outdoors with your pet, the odds of your furry friend getting too close to a wasp or bee increase. One second Fido’s stopping to smell the roses (and everything else), and the next, they’re yelping, pawing at their face, and acting funny.

How to Tell if Your Dog Was Stung By a Bee

What if you don’t see the bee sting when it happens? How do you know your dog was stung by a bee? Most likely, your dog will let you know immediately.

Common signs of bee stings in dogs include:

  • Whining
  • Pawing or biting at the affected area
  • Swelling
  • Drooling
  • Limping or favoring a paw (if the bee stung your pup’s paw)
  • Hives
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low fever
  • Lethargy

Often, if your dog only has one bee sting, they’ll experience discomfort and mild pain. However, if your dog endures multiple stings or has an allergic reaction, it’s a more serious situation. Additionally, if your dog experiences prolonged symptoms, like persistent increased heart rate, sustained high fever, or significant swelling, see your vet as soon as possible.

Can Dogs Be Allergic to Bees?

Dogs can have an allergic reaction to a bee sting just like humans can. If your pup is allergic to bees, you’ll notice a more intense response to the sting. In severe cases, your dog may experience anaphylaxis

Also, it only takes one bee sting to send your pet into anaphylactic shock when severe allergies are involved. If your dog has never been stung, their first bee sting is especially scary. You don’t know whether or not your dog is allergic, so you can’t predict their reaction. Therefore, you must watch them very closely for signs.

What Is an Anaphylactic Bee Reaction in Dogs?

Signs of anaphylaxis typically occur within minutes of the sting, so you’ll likely notice them quickly. Serious symptoms to watch for in dogs include:

  • Hives
  • Swelling on the face, neck, inside the mouth, and the throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Collapse
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Wheezing
  • Fainting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Weakness
  • Pale gums

Your dog may also show these signs if they eat a bee. It’s not the actual eating part that’s the problem, but rather, it’s if your bee stings the inside of your pup’s mouth or throat. If the stinger attacks sensitive areas like the mouth or throat, it can lead to localized swelling, breathing difficulty, and much worse (even if your pup isn’t allergic).

Dog laying on ground

What to Do if a Bee Stings Your Dog

If a bee stings your dog, here’s what you need to do.

1. Remain Calm

Your dog senses when you’re not okay. If you start panicking about the bee sting, your pup will know something’s wrong and stress. Remain calm and speak in an even tone so your dog allows you to get close and examine the sting.

2. Check the Sting Site

Determine the location of the sting to see if there is any redness or swelling. Also, check to see if the stinger is still in your dog. If it is, you must remove it so bee venom won’t continue entering your pup’s body.

3. Remove the Stinger

Use your fingernail or the edge of a credit card to scrape away the stinger gently. Don’t grab the stinger or try to pull it out with tweezers or your fingers. You could squeeze the poison sac and push more venom into your dog.

4. Apply an Ice Pack

After removing the stinger, or verifying that it isn’t there, apply an ice pack or cold compress to the site for 10 minutes. Wrap the pack in a towel first so it doesn’t come in direct contact with your pup’s skin. Applying ice as soon as possible helps reduce swelling and inflammation.

5. Stay Observant

As you check out the sting, observe your dog’s behavior. If your dog is allergic or was stung in a sensitive area, they will typically start showing serious signs of an allergic reaction within minutes of the sting. 

In other words, if something severe is going to happen, you would notice it fairly quickly. Careful observation of your dog following a bee sting could mean the difference between life and death.

6. Take Immediate Action if Your Dog Has an Allergic Reaction

Severe reactions to a bee sting will likely happen soon after the sting occurs. If your pet shows any of the signs listed above or doesn’t seem to be acting like themself, get them to your vet or an emergency animal clinic immediately. Your dog may need IV fluids, certain medications, an adrenaline shot (epi-pen), or other urgent treatment.

7. Follow Up with Your Vet

If your pup doesn’t have a severe reaction, it’s worth calling your vet to let them know your dog got stung by a bee. Depending on the location of the sting, any swelling, etc., your vet may still want to take a peek or take a few precautionary measures. If your dog receives emergency treatment, your vet will likely follow up with you within 24 hours. 

8. Apply an Antihistamine If Necessary

Another reason to check in with your vet following a bee sting is to get a pet-friendly antihistamine. An antihistamine can help soothe the affected area and provide your dog with some relief. Although you can purchase certain products over-the-counter or online, it’s always advisable to talk to your vet before you give your dog medication.

9. Monitor Your Dog for the Next 24 Hours

No matter your dog’s initial reaction to a bee sting, watch them closely for at least 24 hours. If any new symptoms develop, bring them to the vet or emergency clinic immediately. If your dog won’t stop nibbling at the area, use an E-collar to prevent them from doing so.

10. Take the Proper Precautions 

Stay alert when you’re outside with your pup. Bees tend to be out and about more in the morning and early afternoon, so consider adjusting your schedule to avoid these times.

Keep your dog on a leash and train them to come to help keep them away from bees. Check your pup’s outdoor water bowl to make sure there aren’t any bees trying to grab a drink. (Bees will likely drown in deep water, but if your pet’s bowl only has a tiny amount, it could become an attractive watering hole for thirsty bees.)

If your dog is allergic to bees, discuss preventative measures with your vet. In some cases, they can prescribe an epi-pen at the proper dosage for your pup. A study published in the Journal of Pharmacology Research & Perspectives suggests dogs do better with epinephrine administered intranasally instead of via an injection. Either way, there is ongoing research in this area, but it is possible to use an epi-pen on a dog. Ask your vet if this is the right choice for you and your pet.

Dogs and Bees: What’s the Buzz?

Warmer weather brings longer days, plenty of sunshine, and lots of summer fun, but it also brings its own set of challenges. You need to stay vigilant to keep your dog safe and healthy. 

When it comes to things like heat exhaustion, insect bites, and bee stings, how quickly you respond makes a big difference in the outcome. You can find out more about how to help your dog in these types of situations by checking out the rest of the Neater Pets blog.


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