My Dog Got Stung By A Bee: What Should I Do?

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Dog rolling in grass with bee flying (caption: what should I do if my dog gets stung by a bee?)Bees and wasps are one of nature’s little miracles for a curious canine. It’s hard for pups to resist these flying and buzzing wonders. Unfortunately, dogs don’t understand the pain these insects can inflict — and dogs’ faces and paws often pay the price.

If your dog gets stung by a bee, what do you do? In most cases, you can help them at home. But some dogs suffer severe reactions, so it’s important to know when it’s time for emergency care.

Article Overview

What To Do If Your Dog Gets Stung

Did you know? Honeybees are the only insects that leave a stinger in their victims. Wasps and hornets do not.

Dog Barley looking at bee on the ground
Our co-founders’ dog Barley examining a bee up close

If your dog suddenly chews at her foot, paws at her face or tries to rub her face on the ground, she could have been stung. Look around the area to see if you can spot the bee, wasp, hornet, etc. or another offender like a spider. (Spiders can be difficult to identify and may be poisonous, so capture it if you can.)

If it’s a bee sting, try to see if the stinger is still in your dog’s skin. Embedded stingers continue to secrete venom, so it’s important to remove them quickly to reduce the amount of toxin injected into your dog. Remove the stinger by scraping over it with your fingernail or a credit card. Don’t use tweezers because they could squeeze more venom into your dog.

Mild Reactions: Symptoms & Treatment

Most dogs experience mild swelling and redness from a bee, wasp or hornet sting. But it’s important to monitor your dog to make sure her symptoms don’t worsen. Here are some ways you can help your dog at home.

  • Soothe the sting site with a thick paste of baking soda and water.
  • If there are multiple stings, you can soothe them by giving your dog an oatmeal bath.
  • Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and pain. A washcloth soaked in cold water should do the trick, but you can also use an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas.

Moderate Reactions: Symptoms & Treatment

Some dogs can have moderate reactions to stings and become very itchy. If you notice your dog scratching a lot following a bee sting, call your veterinarian’s office.

As long as your dog isn’t vomiting or showing signs of distress, your vet most likely will tell you to give your dog an oral antihistamine containing diphenhydramine (like Benadryl) to minimize the reaction and decrease itching. You can also follow the tips above to ease your dog’s pain and swelling.

Always consult your vet before giving your dog any over-the-counter medications. Many are unsafe for dogs or require vet-recommended dosing that differs from what humans can take.

Which over-the-counter medications are safe for dogs?

When It’s Time For Immediate Vet Care

Some dogs can suffer severe reactions (anaphylactic shock) to bee stings just as some humans do, and dogs could die if they don’t get immediate veterinary attention. Anaphylaxis in humans produces breathing problems. Not always with dogs.

The most common signs that your dog is going into anaphylactic shock is if they start vomiting or have diarrhea within a few minutes (or even up to 20 minutes) after a bee sting — they may also have excessive drooling and pale gums. If this happens, don’t wait. Take your dog to the emergency clinic immediately.

Dog having seizure on back in grass (caption: Dog Seizures: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments)Other severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Severe swelling around the head and neck that could compromise your dog’s ability to breathe.
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing.
  • Excessive drooling — swelling in the throat can cause a buildup of saliva because the dog has difficulty swallowing.
  • Hives on any part of the body. They appear as red bumps on hairless areas and bumps under the skin that raise the hair.
  • Excessive agitation.
  • Dizziness or disorientation.
  • Seizures.

What If My Dog Keeps Swelling?

This video has some excellent advice from a veterinarian about when swelling gets bad enough to seek medical attention for your dog.

All About Dog Allergies

Even if your dog isn’t allergic to bees, she could suffer from other allergies to food or environmental factors. Learn more about the common symptoms and causes of dog allergies. You can even order an at-home dog allergy test to discover what kinds of food and other things your dog doesn’t handle well.

Has your dog ever been stung by a bee?

About The Author:

Sally holds a BA in English from James Madison University and began her 25-year writing career as a grad student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism & Mass Communications. She’s been a pet parent since college years (and spent her whole childhood with pets).

Now as a parent of two teenagers, she’s made sure to raise her daughters to learn how to love and care for pets (and other animals) in the most responsible and loving ways. As a result, she and her daughters now have 5 rescued dogs and cats who essentially rule their home! Sally has also volunteered over the years to help raise funds for various animal nonprofit organizations.

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