What To Do If Your Dog Is Stung By A Bee Or Wasp

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Bee and wasps stings aren’t fun for anyone, including your pet. However sometimes their curious nature can get the better of them and cause our pets to stick to their noses in places they shouldn’t.  Just like humans, dogs can have varying reactions to stings, and while sometimes stings can just cause manageable pain and irritation, other times the issue can be much more severe.


While it’s important to be aware of bees and wasps around your pets throughout the year, it’s important to extra vigilant during the warmer months. With dogs being naturally curious and excited about their surroundings, they can accidentally get themselves in the path of bees and wasps. When in outdoor areas, especially those with a number of flowering plants and in unfamiliar locations, be sure to always keep an eye on your pets. Also be on the lookout for nests and hives and if you do happen to discover one, be sure to keep yourself and your dog away from it and contact a professional removals. By removing it, you can help ensure bees or wasps don’t continue to swarm in that area, keeping your pet and others safe.


Symptoms and Signs Your Dog has Been Stung by a Bee Or Wasp


Dog’s reactions to bee or wasp signs can vary in severity, from mild, more severe to dangerous anaphylactic /allergic reactions.. Depending on the severity of your pet’s reaction to the sting, there are a variety of symptoms to watch for if your dog has been stung. If your dog has been stung on their throat or inside their mouth, often from them trying to bite or catch the insect, take them straight to your local vet.


Mild Reactions


For dog’s exhibiting mild reactions to their stings, symptoms may include:

  • restlessness, discomfort and pain, often resulting in your dog licking or biting in the area they’ve been stung accompanied with whining and crying.
  • Itchiness at the site of the string and over the rest of their body
  • Actual presence of the bee or wasp stringer at the site of the sting - most often these tend to be found on the nose, paws, lip or face.
  • Inflammation, including redness and swelling sometimes also accompanied with hives or welts on their body. Swelling can happen on areas on the body where the sting didn’t occur, and if swelling does start around their neck or head, be sure to head straight to your local vet.
  • Thickening of their gums on the side they’ve been stung
  • Excessive drooling which is caused by your dog being in distress, pain, feeling nausea or due to having difficulty swallowing their saliva because of swelling.


Severe and Allergic/Anaphylactic Reactions


If your dog is having a more severe reaction, including a more allergic or anaphylactic reaction, your dog may also start to exhibit some of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea. Even mild cases can be an indicator of something more serious, so be sure to be alert for this symptom.
  • Pale gums
  • Extreme swelling. Excessive swelling can cause your dog’s airways to become obstructed, making it difficult for them to breath. Swelling in this area can occur even if your dog wasn’t stung on their face, so be sure to do a through check.
  • Experiencing difficulty breathing
  • Seeming dizzy or disorientated
  • Collapsing and unable to stand or walk properly.


If you do see your dog exhibiting any of these symptoms, be sure to take them straight to your local vet, as these anaphylactic reactions can be life threatening to your furry friend. If your dog has never been stung before, or they have and you know they tend to have serious reactions, be sure to take them straight to your closet practice.


In the most cases, the sting and any symptoms should heal within 12 to 24 hours, however if your pet has had a more severe reaction and required hospitalisation, this healing period will be longer.

Initial First Aid Treatment for a Bee or Wasp Sting


When it comes to bee stings, when a bee’s stinger becomes lodged in the skin, it will kill the bee in the process, meaning your pet is likely only going to have been stung once. In the case of wasps, stinging does not kill them, meaning there is the chance your dog may be stung multiple times. If you think a wasp may have stung your pet, be sure to look for multiple sting locations.


Most often a reaction will occur within 20 minutes for your dog being stung, however there is the possibility that your pet won’t show any reaction or symptoms for a number of hours. These more delayed reactions, which are less common, are known as bi-phasic reactions, and may mean they don’t show any signs of a reaction for 3 to 4 hours after the initial sting.


If they have been stung but you don’t see them showing any symptoms, or only minor ones, be sure to closely monitor your dog for the rest of the day and be alert for any symptoms beginning to show, such as any concerning swelling on your dog’s body. If you see any progressing symptoms, or you’re just unsure about what you should do, get in contact with your local vet.


While some human antihistamines can be ok for dogs, others can be fatal. Best practice is to not administer any antihistamines to your pet and inside call your local vet and talk with them about what is the safest and best treatment option for your dog.


When you initially notice your pet has been stung, there are a few immediate first aid actions you should take;

  • Try and identify what type of insect may have stung or possibly bitten your pet by searching around the area. It’s possible your pet has been bitten by a spider or other flying insect. If you see any spider or insect that may have caused the problem, and can you safely capture it, try and do so. If however you’re unsure, treat the situation as if your pet has been stung by a wasp or bee.
  • Check for and remove the stinger, especially if you believe your dog has been stung by a bee. Stingers are often brown in colour, about 2mm to 4mm in length and will feel soft as the actual stinger will be embedded in the skin. The most common places to find stingers are in the nose, paws, mouths, lips or face. Generally the area where the stinger is embedded will be swollen and inflamed. If quite a large area is swollen and you’re having trouble locating the stinger, typically it will be found in the area of the swelling that is the most noticeably uncomfortable for your pet when touched. When removing the stinger, it is best to try and scrape it off with either your finger, credit card or the end of a pair of tweezers. When doing so, try your best to ensure you remove it below the venom sac and avoid pulling on and/or squeezing the affected area as doing this can cause venom to spread more rapidly.
  • Once removed apply a cool compress to the sting location, such as a bag of frozen vegetables or cool pack wrapped in a thin towel. This can help to reduce the pain and swelling. Best practice for a cool compress is apply for 1 to 5 minutes at a time, with 10 to 15 minutes breaks in between for the first hour or two and then whenever needed.
  • To help reduce any pain your dog may be feeling, you may wish to apply a weak mixture of water and baking soda to the affected area.
  • Your dog may be feeling irritated and agitated from the sting, so do your best to keep both them and yourself calm.
  • Following this and monitoring your pets reaction to the sting, get in contact with your local vet to seek advice on further treatment options.


Making Your Dog More Comfortable After a Bee or Wasp Sting


If your dog has had a more minor reaction and is safe to remain monitored at home, there are a few other things you can do for your pet to help with healing and make the time as comfortable as possible for them.

  • If you notice them excessively scratching or chewing at the affected spot, it may be a good idea to fit them with a cone to prevent them from getting at the area, as constant scratching can delay healing and even cause an infection.
  • Stay on top of their food and water intake. Make sure your dog has fresh water to drink and if they have been stung in the mouth, try and feed them more moist food or soften any dry food with water to make this easier and more comfortable for them.
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