Dog Bee Sting Symptoms & Treatment
It’s summer! That means the flowers are blooming, and the bees and other pollinators are out doing their important jobs. But, if your curious dog decides to investigate one of these “spicy sky raisins,” the results can be unpleasant for everyone!
If your dog is stung by a bee, you may be uncertain how to proceed. While some dog bee sting symptoms are mild and can be treated at home, others are very serious and require immediate medical care.
Please be aware that the following tips are general guidelines, and are no substitute for the advice of a medical professional. Always consult with your vet or emergency animal hospital for information specific to your pet’s situation if you are at all concerned about your pet’s wellbeing.
Dog Bee Sting Symptoms
If your pup is stung by a bee, you’ll probably know it! Your pup may be whining or yelping. You may have even seen your dog in pursuit of the curious buzzing creature, only to come away with more than your pup bargained for!
While bee stings are painful enough to ruin anyone’s day — both yours and your dog’s — the good news is, almost all bee stings trigger mild symptoms that you can probably treat at home.
But how do you know which symptoms are “mild,” and which are indicative of a more serious reaction? According to the Animal Emergency Service, mild reactions include:
Sudden onset of yelping, whining or limping
Licking, chewing, pawing, or scratching at the bite site
Redness and swelling
Painful when touched
Hives or welts
These are the typical bee sting symptoms, and they heal on their own with time.
However, like humans, dogs can be allergic to bee stings. Allergic reactions can be extremely serious and even life-threatening. This is especially true if your dog disturbed a nest or hive and was stung multiple times; the more venom your pup is exposed to, the more severe symptoms are likely to be.
Signs of a serious allergic reaction include:
Dizziness or disorientation
Coma or loss of consciousness
If you notice your dog displaying any of these symptoms, it’s time to take your dog to the vet or emergency animal clinic right away. These are all signs of your dog going into anaphylactic shock.
As Small Door Vet explains:
“Anaphylactic shock in dogs is a severe and life threatening allergic reaction to an allergen, such as a bee sting. When a dog goes into anaphylactic shock, excessive amounts of histamines in the body lead to decreased blood pressure, smooth muscle contraction, capillary dilatation, and edema.
Additionally, the lungs may be affected by anaphylactic shock, along with the liver. Any signs of anaphylactic shock should prompt an immediate emergency veterinarian visit.”
Without immediate treatment, anaphylactic shock can be fatal.
Dog Bee Sting Treatment and At-Home Remedies
There are some steps you can take right away to treat your pal’s bee sting. As long as symptoms remain mild, you should be able to care for your pooch at home; but if your dog starts showing signs of allergic reaction, contact your vet or emergency animal hospital right away.
1. Remove the stinger.
If you leave the stinger behind, it will continue to pump venom into your poor pup and trigger a worse reaction. So it’s important that the first thing you do is find and remove the stinger.
DON’T use tweezers! Squeezing the stinger with tweezers or your fingers could cause the attached venom sac to release more venom. Instead, use something thin and flat such as a credit card or fingernail to gently scrape the stinger away from the skin.
If you can’t find the stinger, or if your dog is displaying the symptoms of a bee sting but you don’t know for sure that’s what happened, err on the side of caution — follow these steps, but be ready to contact your vet if symptoms get worse or change suddenly.
2. Wash the affected area.
Use lukewarm water and a small amount of gentle hand soap to clean the area where your dog was stung. Remember to dab very gently and do not scrub, as the area will be highly tender!
3. Apply an ice pack.
An ice pack is helpful to reduce the swelling and alleviate some of your dog’s discomfort. Hold the ice gently on the swollen area for a few minutes at a time, until the swelling starts to go down.
Remember to never apply ice directly to your dog’s skin. Use a medical ice pack, or fill a plastic baggie with ice and wrap it in a dish towel. (Of course, you could always go for the old-fashioned bag of frozen peas.)
4. Counteract the venom.
One useful trick not many pet parents know for treating dog bee stings is to mix water with baking soda until it forms a thick paste. Then, very gently spread this paste over the affected area. The properties of the baking soda help counteract the venom, lessening the symptoms.
5. Monitor closely.
After treatment, continue to keep a close eye on your dog for the next few hours. A sock, onesie or “cone of shame” may be necessary to keep your poor pup from chewing at or aggravating the area.
Serious allergic reactions typically develop within the first 15-20 minutes, so that’s the most important time to monitor your dog. However, there have been a few cases of delayed allergic reactions that don’t display symptoms until hours later. It’s unlikely, but you should continue to monitor your dog, just in case.
Should you use Benadryl for a dog bee sting?
Benadryl or similar antihistamines can be a good option for your dog if they are stung by a bee; however, you should always consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any medication, just in case your dog’s individual medical circumstances mean they shouldn’t take it.
As Small Door Vet says:
“We strongly recommend you always check with your vet about the correct dosage of Benadryl for your dog. However, a general rule-of-thumb dose for a dog is 1 milligram per pound of body weight. For example, a dog that weighs 25 pounds would need to take one 25 milligram tablet. It is essential that you make sure this is normal Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) and NOT ‘Benadryl-D’ since Benadryl-D contains a decongestant that can be toxic to certain dogs.”
Follow these steps, and your dog should start to recover very soon! They’ll most likely be playing like nothing happened in a day or two. (And hopefully this time, they’ll stay away from the buzzing!).
Areas Where a Dog May Be Stung By a Bee
My Dog Was Stung in the Face or Mouth
The biggest risk if your dog is stung by a bee in the mouth or face area is that the swelling may restrict their airway and impact their ability to breathe.
If your dog has multiple stings around the face or mouth area — for example, if your unlucky pooch shoves their nose straight into a hive — even mild symptoms from each individual sting can compound each other and drastically impact breathing.
My Dog Was Stung in the Eye
A bee sting to the eye or surrounding area is extremely painful and distressing for your dog. The swelling may force their eye shut, or put dangerous pressure on their eyeball.
Even if your dog isn’t showing signs of a severe allergic reaction, a bee sting on or near their eyes should always be taken seriously just because of the vulnerable area. Take your pup to your vet to ensure there is no lasting damage or loss of vision as a result.
My Dog Ate a Bee
If your dog eats a bee, there’s a chance the bee will sting their throat or stomach on the way down.
Watch Fido for signs of allergic reaction or swelling around their throat, and make sure they continue to drink and eat normally. If your dog is throwing up or develops diarrhea within a few hours of eating a bee, get in touch with your veterinarian right away.
On the other hand, if you know your dog ate a bee but they don’t seem to be affected in any way, there’s probably nothing to worry about. Your dog’s powerful stomach acid likely digested the bee before it had a chance to sting. If the bee was already dead when your dog decided to snack on it, the chances of a sting are very low.
My Dog Was Stung on Their Paw
If your dog steps on a bee or wasp, or swipes at it with their paw, they may end up with a sting on their foot or leg. It’s not surprising if your dog limps if this happens; a bee sting is quite tender and painful, after all!
Follow the treatment steps listed above. As long as your pup isn’t showing severe symptoms such as disorientation, difficulty breathing or vomiting, a stung paw should heal nicely at home with a little TLC.
Try to keep your pup relaxed and not running around on their injured paw while it heals (of course, we know for some dogs that’s easier said than done!).
The buzzing of bees brings the risk of a painful sting. But as long as you know what to expect and what to do if your dog is stung by a bee, there’s no reason to panic. In fact, now would be a good time to assemble a dog first aid kit, so you are fully prepared to assist your pup if need be!