Our pets are quite curious and love to wander which is what makes them such fun and exciting companions for pet owners! It becomes a problem though when they don’t know how to keep their nose out of places where it doesn’t belong. Sometimes bees, wasps, or other flying insects are flying around a flower bush that has caught your dog’s attention.
Next thing you know, they’re quickly pulling their face out of the bush and you suspect that your dog is stung by a honey bee or a wasp. Sometimes pets can get stung by other bugs and have got different stinging insects. So, what are the hallmark symptoms of a bee sting? What are some things you do once you’ve confirmed your dog has been stung by a bee and is showing signs? Let’s take a look!
What are the symptoms of a bee sting on a dog?
One obvious sign of bee stings on a dog is the site will be swollen as a result of venom. Dogs are commonly stung by bees and wasps on the pads of their feet, face, and mouth. However, It’s important to note that the swelling may not only occur at the site of the sting. Swelling from a bee sting can actually occur on some other spot on your dog’s body independent of the sting site.
The least obvious signs of a sting will be your dog pawing at their face, mouth, or chewing their feet. As dog owners, we’re used to seeing our dogs paw at their mouth or face often to groom themselves. Sometimes they even bite at their paw from minor irritation. But if your dog is constantly exhibiting these behaviors, don’t deduce it to a possible flea bite or another harmless stinging insect bite. It could be the beginning of a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis from bee stings or wasp stings.
What do I do when my dog gets stung by a bee?
The very first thing you’ll want to do is call your veterinarian and treat it as an emergency. Symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction, which we’ll discuss later, can occur within just 5 to 10 minutes of being stung by bee venom. Your veterinarian may direct you to give your dog over-the-counter medications like antihistamines. Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is the most recommended. They’ll provide the dosage of Benadryl based on their height and bodyweight to prevent severe allergic reactions.
If no signs of a severe allergic reaction are present, you’re safe to remove the stinger but you still need to keep a close eye on your pup. Stingers will be a little more difficult to find in pets with a thick or long coat. Don’t waste too much time searching all the spots.
If you cant find a stinger, then your dog may have a wasp sting. If you’re unsure if a wasp or other flying insect stung your pet, visit a vet immediately even before your dog shows signs of a reaction.
If you were able to find a bee stinger, your first reaction may be to grab tweezers to try and remove it from the sting site. Much like grabbing tweezers to remove a splinter.
However, you run the risk of squeezing more toxins into your dog. Since you don’t know just yet if they will have an allergic reaction, it’s important not to inject any more of the insect venom into them. Instead of tweezers, grab a credit card and flick it off.
Are bee stings bad for dogs?
Bee stings have the potential to be fatal for dogs, much like people. The only difference between humans and dogs is, humans can tell you exactly what is going on with them, while dogs can’t. They might bark when a stranger passes the door but they’re much more docile when they’re in pain.
This makes it a lot more difficult to decipher whether your dog is rolling around in the grass because he always does or if he is doing that because of an allergic reaction.
There have been many cases of dogs who handle bee stings just fine and can be treated with at-home treatments once given clearance from a veterinarian. So, all hope isn’t lost in case your dog gets stung by a bee. However, it’s best to err on the side of caution and treat bee stings as an emergency.
How do I Know If My Dog Is Having an Allergic Reaction?
Severe allergic reactions can happen in just minutes or within a few hours so you need to have a sense of urgency following a bee sting, even if your dog has been stung before. Take your dog to your veterinarian or an emergency vet as soon as you see these symptoms:
- Hives. Just like swelling, this can occur in any part of the body. They will be red bumps on the skin that raise the fur. A Bee Hive is quite itchy so your dog may roll in the grass to scratch themselves.
- Severe Swelling. Swelling is normal following multiple bee stings but if you’re unsure whether your dog has severe reaction swelling, take them to the vet anyway.
- Diarrhea or vomiting. This includes any vomiting or diarrhea whatsoever. Even if you think it’s related to a change in diet or new medication, don’t risk it. Take your dog to the vet.
- Excessive drooling. If your dog’s throat is severely swollen, they won’t be able to swallow their saliva which will cause unusual drooling from the mouth.
- Agitation and restlessness. Intense itching and not breathing properly can make dogs anxious and irritated. Not only this, but venom from the bee sting can affect the nervous system. This can cause violent seizures.
- Disorientation/dizziness. If your dog is stumbling over and just doesn’t seem to be alert, make sure to take your dog to the vet right away.
- Difficulty breathing/wheezing. Excessive panting may either mean your dog is having difficulty breathing or they are experiencing pain-related anxiety. Either way, don’t wait! Take your dog to the vet.
What will my veterinarian do?
When you bring your pup to the vet for an allergic reaction to a sting there are a few necessary procedures that’ll take place. The aim of treatment at this point is to reduce the life-threatening reaction to a stable amount so that your dog doesn’t go into shock. The first line of defense will be giving your dog antihistamines like Benadryl if you haven’t already given it to them.
Along with this, your vet might give your dog epinephrine or corticosteroids. These two drugs raise dropping blood pressure(quickly identified by pale gums) reverse hives, reduces swelling, and stimulates the heart. Your vet might also give your dog IV fluids. This helps stabilize the oxygen of pups who get stung by bees and helps respiration.
Next, your vet might need a blood or urine test. This helps to eliminate any suspicion of organ damage that may have been raised by the pale gums of your pet. If your pet needs to stay with the veterinarian, it’s usually for one or two days so that they have ample time to respond to all the treatments. They’ll be closely monitored by the staff to make sure your pet has stable vitals. You will also be given an Epi-pen to take home, to prevent allergic reactions in the event of future insect stings.
If your dog was vomiting, you might have to change their menu for a few days and feed them bland food like plain, white rice, and boiled chicken. Even though they’ve already had fluids, continue to make sure they stay hydrated and give them plenty of water.
Lastly, before you leave the vet, the staff may ask you if your contact information is up to date like your phone number, email address, and home address. This needs to be updated at all times for more than just receiving an “all rights reserved” monthly newsletter. Situations like these require your veterinarian to be able to contact you with any updates about the condition of your pet.
How can I care for my pet at home?
The good news is, if you’re lucky and your pet has not suffered an allergic reaction, then you can treat symptoms/mild symptoms at home. Hornet stings are extremely uncomfortable, so the goal of at-home treatment is to reduce discomfort as much as possible. Through using some of these methods, you’ll also be able to reduce inflammation and swelling. Throughout the whole home-care process, you still need to keep an eye out for signs of an emergency reaction.
Soothe the Bee Sting Baking Soda Paste
Some pet owners use a paste of baking soda and water on bee and wasp stings. If your dog happens to have multiple stings or insect bites, then a warm oatmeal bath will be ideal.
Minimize the Swelling
Using an icepack at the side of the sting on your pet can greatly reduce swelling and numb the pain. If you don’t have an actual ice pack on hand, a bag of frozen vegetable swill work just as well. If your dog’s swelling is widespread, use a towel soaked in cold water. Make sure not to leave the ice pack on for more than 10 minutes to avoid damaging the skin on your pet.
Keep Your Dog Company
Even if it’s been 24 hours since your dog has been stung by bees and they haven’t had an allergic reaction, it’s important to keep monitoring them in case situations change into an emergency. Stay by your pup and make sure they’re comfortable and happy. If they aren’t sick, open a can of their favorite food and keep them cozy.
And keep them away from licking the site of the sting! They’ll only end up irritating it more.
If your dog has been playing around bushes or around areas you suspect have wasps, bees, or a wasp nest and is showing signs of discomfort, examine them thoroughly and call your vet. If you’ve gotten to your pet too late and they’re already exhibiting signs of anaphylaxis and trouble breathing take them to your vet immediately.
Your pup might seem perfectly fine after battling with bees. You might also be aware that more cases exist for dogs surviving bee stings than not. Dogs stung by bees can seem perfectly fine at first but within a couple of hours, the bee sting can cause major problems. Of course, it’s always better safe than sorry when it comes to the well-being of our pets.