Everybody loves the humble bumblebee. These buzzing little cuties are arguably the most popular insect that shares our homes, and we should be doing our part to prevent them from going extinct.
Like all things that we love, however, bees must also be respected – not just by us, but by our dogs too. Unlike wasps and hornets, who are basically just jerks, bees would never go out of their way to attack us or our canine companions. If a bee feels under threat, however, they will retaliate – and that involves a sharp sting that can get pretty painful.
In addition to the soreness of a sting, however, we also need to vigilant about any potential allergic reactions to a bee sting. These stripy insects may be cute but they pack quite a punch, and if you’re not careful they could leave your pooch in some serious discomfort – or worse.
Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at the painful world of bee stings and dogs. We’ll take a look at why they happen, how they occur, and what you should do.
Table of Contents:
How to Treat a Dog That Has Been Stung by a Bee or Wasp
Once you have recognized a sting on your dog, there are a number of steps that you’ll have to undertake in order to administer Fido with first aid.
Follow these steps, and you’ll be able to keep the problem from escalating.
- Stay calm. Your dog is going to be in pain and a little upset about this whole experience, and you flapping and panicking will only make things worse. Reassure Fido, and make sure he understands that you’re in control of the situation.
- Locate the sting. If your dog has been stung by a bee, the stinger will still be in their paw, nose or wherever else it may be. If it were a wasp or hornet that did the job, there would be no evidence. You’ll be able to find the impacted area without too much trouble – it will be red and swollen, and if it’s your dog’s paw, they’ll probably be licking it in an attempt at soothing the discomfort.
- Remove the stinger (if applicable). If it were a bee sting that left the stinger behind, you’d have to remove this. Do not do so using your fingers, or tweezers – squeezing the stinger will pump more venom into your dog! Instead, use something with a flat, straight edge like a credit card to scrape the stinger away and away from your dog’s body.
- Neutralize the impact of the sting. As we have mentioned, your dog will be in pain after being stung. This can be nullified by mixing a solution of water with bicarbonate of soda if the sting came from a bee, or with vinegar or lemon juice for a wasp or hornet.
- Apply ice to the swelling. Finally, wrap some ice in a towel or something similar and hold it over the swelling. This will calm it down, and prevent your dog from feeling quite so sorry for themselves. You could also apply a little aloe vera gel to calm down the itching and burning sensation.
Follow this advice, and your dog will learn a valuable lesson about antagonizing insects and suffer no further ill effects!
Do I Need to Take My Dog to the Vet if a Bee Has Stung Them?
Use your discretion on this matter. More often than not, you’ll be able to deal with the bee sting by yourself. However, if there is any doubt at all that your dog is reacting poorly to a bee sting or suffering from an allergic reaction then get some medical attention and advice from a vet. This is especially true if your dog has any difficulty breathing. Older and younger dogs are at particular risk too and should be shown particular attention. As we always say, if you have any cause for concern then speak to a professional; we are not vets, and do not claim to be!
People often ask about using an EpiPen for dogs. Of courses, devices designed for humans may not appropriate for animals. Please consult your vet first or contact the emergency clinic if the situation requires it.
Why Would a Bee Sting My Dog?
A bee will not sting a dog out of the blue. Firstly, take a look at the size difference between the two creatures. A bee will understandably be a lot more scared of a canine than the other way around.
However, as we have said, if a bee feels that they are under threat – or that the queen of their hive may be attacked – they will react in the only way that they know how.
Just some of the situations that may result in a dog being stung by a bee include:
- Your dog chased a bee. Bees hover in the air making a lot of noise, and they tend to dart all over the place in quick, jerky motions. That can be an irresistible combination to some dogs, whose hunting instincts will get the better of them and inspire them to track down the insect. There’s every chance they’ll do nothing about it when they reach it, but there’s no way of the bee knowing that and they might sting your pooch as a precautionary measure.
- Your dog tried to eat a bee. This is rare, but it can be hugely dangerous for your dog. If a bee gets into Fido’s mouth, a sting may follow – which, in addition to being hugely painful, could cause your dog’s windpipe to swell and give them trouble breathing.
- Your dog disturbed a working bee. Bees tend to get busy throughout the summer months, pollinating flowers and plants all over the place. If your dog is prone to shoving their face into flowerbeds and shrubs that could be host to a bee, a sting to the nose could be the result.
- Your dog stepped on a bee. If a bee is going about their business on the ground, your dog may not notice and step on them. Again, as a reaction based on shock and fear, the bee in question may sting your dog on the paw. It could also be the case that an ant has bitten your dog’s paw, so make sure that you check the area thoroughly.
These are just some of the reasons why a dog and bee may come into contact that ends badly for Fido. Remember, a wasp may also attack for no good reason other than the fact that your dog is in their space, or because they are keen to sample food that your dog is enjoying.
Be vigilant about keeping your dog away from any kind of flying or stinging insect as much as possible, and you should be able to enjoy a picnic in the park in perfect harmony. The, “leave it” command is helpful here, and should be one that your dog is wholly familiar with.
What Body Parts of a Dog are Stung Most Often?
The average bee or wasp sting will not be strong enough to penetrate your dog’s fur, so they should usually be safe if a bee attacks their body. This is not always the case though, so you should still avoid taking any chances.
A bee or wasp will be able to gain access to softer parts of a dog’s anatomy, however, which means that certain parts of their body are at particular risk.
A dog is most likely to be stung on any of the following areas:
- Paw Pads
- Inner Ear
The impact of a bee sting on these areas will vary in pain, severity and side effects depending on your dog. We’ll discuss how to handle a sting in just a moment, but make sure that your dog will not react poorly to any of the treatments that you decide to use.
Is a Bee Sting Poisonous?
Yes as they contain venom. In fact, in Australia – a nation where just about every nook and cranny contains an animal that could kill if so inclined – bee stings are responsible for more human hospitalizations than any other poisonous creature.
However, the good news is that most of these mishaps are a result of allergies to bee stings, not the act of being stung itself. While it’s hugely important to treat a dog that has been stung as quickly as possible and to take immediate and urgent action is they are allergic, an attack from a bee is rarely life-threatening to the average canine.
How Do I Know if My Dog is Allergic to Bee Stings?
Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing or testing until they are stung. Skip ahead to our section on the symptoms of anaphylactic shock to ensure that you are entirely aware of what an allergic reaction to a bee sting will look like. Once you do know, however, at least you’ll be able to leap into action quickly in the future!
Is There a Difference Between Bee Stings and Wasp Stings?
Yes, there are some fundamental differences between bee and wasp stings, and not just the fact that a bee sting will remain lodged in your dog after the attack. Bee stings are acidic, and wasp (and hornet) stings are alkaline – which means that they are neutralized and treated in different ways. We’ll discuss that in a moment. There are other things that you should be aware of, however.
Wasp stings tend to hurt a little more than bee stings because they go deeper and harder than a bee. Hornet stings meanwhile if your dog is deeply unfortunate enough to encounter one of these aggressive insects, are among the most painful experiences of them, all. Also be aware that a wasp may sting your dog multiple times just for the merry heck of it. Seriously, they’re complete jerks.
How to Tell if Your Dog Has Been Stung by a Bee
You’ll know about it if your dog has been stung. Unless your canine is particularly stoic and prone to suffering in silence, they will make you well aware of the discomfort that comes with a sting!
Some of the symptoms of bee stings on dogs include:
- Yelping and Crying. Your dog will experience an immediate and unmistakable short, sharp shock when they’re stung – which they will no doubt verbalize!
- Limping. This is especially likely if your dog has been stung on the paw. If Fido is limping and looking sorry for himself, the chances are he stepped on a bee or wasp and was stung as a result.
- Swelling. Swelling is perfectly normal for a dog that has been stung, especially around the paws or nose. Keep an eye on this and treat it appropriately, seeking help if it’s problematic.
- Allergic Reaction Symptoms. We’ll discuss the symptoms of anaphylactic shock shortly, but be aware that an allergic reaction should be taken very seriously. These could include breaking out in hives, panting and struggling to breathe, or an upset stomach.
You probably won’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to work out if your dog has fallen victim to a bee or wasp sting. If they have been poking their faces into bushes and flowers or chasing something around, there is every risk that they have angered the insect and been stung.
Also remember that, if it was a bee that attacked your dog, the sting will still be found within their body – this will need to be removed as part of the treatment process.
My Dog Was Stung by a Bee on the Paw, and I Can’t Find the Stinger
The first thing to assess in this instance is to confirm that it was a bee that stung your dog. Can you be certain that it was not a wasp, and thus there is no stinger to track down?
If you’re certain that it was indeed a bee that attacked your dog, look for a red and swollen area on the paw – and a hole the size of a pinprick. Recheck your canine companion’s paws, ideally with the aid of a flashlight and a magnifying glass to ensure that the stinger has not lodged itself deeper into the paw pad, and if there’s still no sign skip straight to the treatment.
My Dog Ate a Bee and Got Stung in the Mouth
This is potentially the most dangerous place for a dog to be stung. The swelling means that they may find their windpipe closing up, making breathing labored and difficult, or they could sting your dog’s tongue. This could, in turn, make eating and drinking difficult. If a bee or wasp attacks your dog’s throat, that will also leave them feeling extremely uncomfortable. If your dog has any kind of oral mishaps involving a flying insect, it’s probably best to consult a professional just to be on the safe side.
My Dog Keeps Sneezing After a Bee Sting
There are two possible reasons for this; either your dog was stung around the nostrils and the swelling is irritating their noise, or they are having an allergic reaction to the sting. The latter is considerably more concerning than the former, in this instance!
If your dog does not display signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives, vomiting, diarrhea or tremors, hold back and keep a close eye on Fido. There may not be any immediate need to charge to the vet, but by the same token, you should not ignore this symptom.
My Dog Keeps Vomiting After a Bee Sting
This is a worrying a sign, as it suggests that your dog is about to enter anaphylactic shock – if they have not already.
Dog Anaphylactic Shock Symptoms
Just like humans, some dogs are severely allergic to bee stings and could enter anaphylactic shock. This is a very serious condition that could turn fatal if not treated by a professional quickly, so never waste time when it comes to getting a dog to a vet if they display signs of anaphylactic shock after being stung.
The most common symptoms include:
- Labored Breathing.
- Vomiting and Diarrhea.
- Excessive Drooling.
- Pale or Otherwise Discolored Gums.
- Seizures and Fits.
We really can’t stress this enough – if your dog appears to be going into shock after being stung, seek urgent medical attention. If you capture the problem early enough, your vet will be able to provide adrenaline and medications to get your dog back on track.
For more information on dog allergies, check out our guide on how to recognize allergic reactions in dogs.
Should I Give My Dog an Antihistamine After They’ve Been Stung by a Bee?
You can use human antihistamines such as Benadryl on a dog, but it’s not advisable unless you have first consulted with a vet. If you are not careful, you may inadvertently leave your pooch feeling even worse and faced with even more severe repercussions.
If you’re going to give your dog an antihistamine, you should use one 1mg per pound of body weight for your canine. This means that most generic pills that you’ll pick up from the supermarket or drugstore will only be suitable for larger breeds of dog, and don’t take any risks if your dog is prone to other health conditions.
If your dog has previously taken antihistamines and shown no adverse reactions – and the treatment was approved, or even administered, by your vet – there is no reason why you won’t be able to do so again. Just don’t leap to these medications as your first port of call without first discussing options with a professional.
How Long Does a Bee Sting Last on a Dog?
On average, it could take around five days for the full symptoms of a bee or wasp sting to calm down, though hopefully, Fido will be back to his old self within 48 hours. This means that it is not necessarily a huge concern if your dog is still looking a little swollen in the affected area after this time, as long as they are not showing any other signs of discomfort or allergy.
As always, however, do be very careful about watching your dog during this period and ensuring that they do not experience anything untoward. The attention of a vet may not be necessary, but don’t take any chances. It’s always better to err on the side of caution where a potential allergy or health concern is involved.
How Long Does a Bee Sting Hurt a Dog?
As for the pain, however? Dog bee sting recovery time can vary, depending on the canine in question, and where they were stung. Once you have taken all the necessary steps to treat the sting your dog should stop being quite so sore within a couple of hours, though there will still be side effects.
If your dog is still in visible discomfort several hours after the incident, you should speak to a vet – even if they are not showing any outward signs of allergy. There may be something taking place below the surface that you’re not aware of.
Thankfully, bee stings on dogs are comparatively few and far between. Sometimes they’re unavoidable if Fido insists upon sticking his face into a bush where a queen is building a hive, or absent-mindedly steps upon one of the flying critters while they happen to be on the floor, but for the most part, you can prevent your pet from meeting this fate. Wasps and hornets, on the other hand? They’re just jerks…
In all seriousness though, learn the signs of a bee sting on your dog and what action that you’ll need to take in such an event. Anaphylactic shock is no joke and could be hugely dangerous to a pet that happens to be sensitive to a sting. Just as long as you know what to do, however, your dog will come through the experience comparatively unscathed – and maybe they’ll learn a valuable lesson in the process.