Bee Stings on Dogs and Puppies
Bee stings are usually harmless for your dog if treated correctly. Most of the time, the swelling will go away after a few days and they’ll be back to their usual happy self.
In some instances, your dog may be stung in other places such as their neck, mouth or by multiple bees at once. Depending on the location of the sting, there are different symptoms to look out for and remedies you can apply.
Signs and Symptoms of a Bee Sting
If you see your dog swelling on the muzzle, this is a good indicator that they may have been stung.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- Biting the affected area
- Hives appearing on the skin
- Puffiness to eyes, lips and face
If you see any of these occurring while out with your pup, check them over to see if they’ve been stung.
Bees are one of the most common stinging insects aside from wasps. When they sting, they release a small amount of poison known as apitoxin into the wound, causing the pain. Their barbed stinger is detached, killing the bees in the process.
Will My Dog Be Okay?
Everyone is affected by bee stings differently, and it’s exactly the same for your pup. The most common reaction you will see is swelling around the area of the sting. You may also see a breakout in hives, which can be uncomfortable for your dog.
Usually, the pain and swelling will take a few days to subside and your dog will be back to its old self.
In some cases, your dog may react badly to bee stings. If they have an allergic reaction, they need to be monitored to make sure a secondary reaction doesn’t occur.
Signs of a bad reaction include:
- Breathing becomes difficult
- Large swelling traveling away from where the initial sting was
If it looks like your pup is having a bad allergic reaction, take the dog to the vets. After treatment, whether it was a little reaction or severe, your dog should be back to chasing its tails in your garden once more.
If, after treatment, you’re worried about your dog, take them back to the vets where your veterinarian will be able to give them a check-up.
How Do They Get Stung?
Dogs love to play in the garden and parks, especially during the spring. This is the most common time of year where bees are flourishing. Due to this, there’s a high chance that our canine buddies are going to get stung.
Some of the most common reasons include:
- Looking into a flower
- Chasing the bees
- Ingesting a bee
- Bee feels threatened
Most of the time, you’ll see swelling on the muzzle or foot. Bees are prone to stay near the grassy areas, which makes for great chases with dogs. Since they’re so curious, your pup can’t help but want to see what it is, causing them to be stung. Dogs can also try to eat the bees if they managed to get close.
Why Do Bees Sting?
The most common reason for a bee to sting a dog is because they’re feeling threatened. If there’s a hive nearby, it’s most likely that this bee’s from there. All it’s doing is trying to protect the hive.
Bees release a pheromone when stung that attracts other bees to the area. If your dog has been stung by one, try to get it away from the area as quickly as you can.
What to Do If Your Dog’s Been Stung by a Bee
Here are some ways to soothe your dog and make them feel a bit better:
- Remove the stinger
- Baking soda
- Oatmeal bath
- Ice pack
- Cone of shame
- Hydration and food
Removing a Stinger
This could be as easy as seeing the swelling happen or they’re chewing their paws. They may even be favoring a leg or yelping in pain.
Try and look for the spot where the stinger would be located. It will be red and raised compared to other areas. Inspect the muzzle, belly, paws and any other place they may be stung. Your dog won’t be keen on letting you find the spot, but try to calm them down so you can look.
If you find the stinger, the best option is to gently scrape it with some cardboard or a bank card. This will gently lift the stinger out. You can also try to remove it with tweezers but squeeze gently.
The stinger still injects poison for a few minutes after it’s been detached from the bee, and squeezing it harder could release the remaining poison into your poor pup.
If you can’t or don’t want to remove the stinger, take your dog to the vets and let them remove it. Your veterinarian will then discuss aftercare with you.
Combine water and baking soda to make a paste, and then administer it to the affected area. This will help soothe the wound and take some stress away from your dog.
If your dog has suffered from multiple stings, an oatmeal bath after being to the vets is the way to go:
- Grind up a cup of pure oatmeal into powder and then mix with warm water in a bathtub
- Let your pup soak for 15 minutes
- If there’s a specific place on the body, make sure that it’s covered in the oatmeal — it’s a natural method of soothing the skin.
You can try using an oatmeal-based shampoo if you don’t have oatmeal, but check with your veterinarian first.
Ice is a brilliant way to reduce the swelling on anything. If the reaction is small, grab some ice wrapped in a paper towel, and hold it in place for 10 minutes. If the area is larger, it’s best to use a cool towel around your pup.
Don’t have ice? Grab frozen veg from the freezer, wrap it in a towel and apply to the area — peas are ideal here. Never apply ice directly to an area as it could burn the skin.
Give your pup some oral antihistamine to reduce the reaction and itching. Check the dosage before giving it to your dog and phone your vet to confirm.
If your dog has been stung before, still check with the vet for the dosage. They may have been stung in a different place, or it may be worse than the time before.
The Cone of Shame
Every dog hates the cone, but it’ll help them in the long run. It will stop them from trying to lick or bite the affected area. Using the cone will help aid the healing process.
Hydration and Food
You should make sure you are giving your dog fresh food and water. If your dog has been stung in the mouth, it’ll struggle to eat.
Instead of giving them a wet food diet, mix the dry food with some water. It will make it easier for them to eat and be better for their stomachs than wet food.
Even if you think your dog may be okay after being stung, take them to the vets just to make sure. You may not have removed the whole stinger, or they may be having reactions that you can’t see.
Having a vet check your dog a final time will eliminate any worries you may have had in your mind.
Sting in the Mouth
If your dog suffers a reaction from being stung in the mouth, you may see the neck or face swelling. This swelling may cause a blockage in your dog’s airway making, it difficult for them to breathe.
Take them to the vets immediately. They deal with bee stings all the time; you don’t. They’ll be able to take the stinger out and help your dog. Follow the instructions that they give you for aftercare.
You must take them to the vet as soon as possible. You aren’t able to personally do anything, and you need a professional to help your dog.
Multiple bee stings may have severe reactions, such as:
- Noticeable pain
- Elevated heart rate
- Muscle tremors
- Temperature change
- Heavy panting
Due to there being no antidote, treatment is aggressive, so that dogs don’t develop after-effects such as kidney failure. It focuses on maintaining the hydration of the dog, along with pain medication. Focus on giving your dog good aftercare once all of the stingers are out and the vet says it’s okay to take them home.
The Africanized honeybee migrated to Central America, Southwest America and Florida due to them breaking free of quarantine in Brazil. Unlike usual bees, these can become aggravated easily and tend to chase their victims. When annoyed, they’re known to attack in large swarms.
Even so, their poison is the same dosage as a docile honey bee. It’s the multiple stings that can be dangerous for your pets. See the veterinarian immediately if your dog has been attacked by an African honey bee, as the chances are that your dog’s been attacked by more than one.
Closely monitor your pup. Make sure that there’s no reaction towards the prescribed medicine.
Your canine friend is going to feel down, so make sure to give them lots of cuddles and love to cheer them up again. When stroking them, try not to touch the affected area as it will still be sensitive.
After some time, your dog should be back to its usual happy self, except this time, they’ll be a bit warier of into the grass.
Bees are known to be mostly docile creatures and will only sting if they feel threatened. If your dog ever gets stung by a bee, don’t panic. Make sure you follow the steps above, such as removing the stinger and giving the appropriate aftercare to your pup. Even if it’s just putting an ice pack on their paw, it’ll reduce the swelling and enhance the healing process.
If in doubt, always seek medical advice from your veterinarian in the local area.