What to Do if Your Dog Has Been Stung By a Bee

Dog Health June 14, 2024
What to Do if Your Dog Has Been Stung By a Bee
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What to Do if Your Dog Has Been Stung By a Bee

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What to Do if Your Dog Has Been Stung By a Bee

Bee stings can be dangerous for dogs due to the small amount of poison they inject, not the wound left by the bite. Bees have a barbed stinger that detaches from the bee and remains in the dog’s skin. The venom sack continues to inject more venom, so it is best to remove it as soon as possible. In some cases, multiple bee stings have led to death.

Most bee stings occur when dogs get too close and are stung on the face, with mouth stings being particularly dangerous as swelling can block airways. Dogs’ paws can also be stung by bees, as they often step on or paw them away. Stings in this area often go unnoticed and undiagnosed, as owners may mistakenly think they have torn a nail or cut themselves.

Signs and Symptoms of a Bee Sting

Bee stings can cause swelling, pain, and discomfort in dogs, with each animal reacting differently. Some may experience minor discomfort, while others may experience a stronger reaction or allergic reactions.

The location of the sting also affects the effects. If the sting occurs inside the mouth, swelling is the main concern, potentially causing difficulty with airflow. However, these issues are rare and can be managed with proper care.

Allergic Reaction from Bee Stings

Following a bee sting, it’s crucial to monitor your pet’s breathing and look for any signs of an allergic reaction. Dogs stung by multiple bees or those with previous stings are more susceptible. If the sting site swells, especially on the neck or face, take your dog to an emergency vet immediately.

If your dog vomits within 5–10 minutes or has pale gums, it could be anaphylactic shock. Other signs of an allergic reaction include significant drooling, agitation, or sudden aggression. Seek help immediately if your dog shows any of these symptoms.

What if Your Dog is Stung on the Head, Mouth, or Nose?

If your dog is stung on the nose, mouth, or around the head, it is crucial to monitor for several hours to ensure swelling doesn’t interfere with breathing or swallowing. If swelling increases dramatically after a few minutes, see a veterinarian immediately.

If your dog disturbs a hive, call them and distance them from the swarm. Take your dog to the nearest veterinarian. Treatment for massive amounts of stings needs to occur quickly to prevent shock and circulatory collapse and minimize damage to organ systems.

If swelling increases dramatically or you notice difficulty breathing, take your dog to the vet immediately. Applying an ice pack or cold towel to the affected area can help reduce swelling.

Anaphylactic Bee Reactions in Dogs

Anaphylactic shock in dogs is a severe allergic reaction to an allergen, such as a bee sting. This reaction results in decreased blood pressure, smooth muscle contraction, capillary dilatation, and edema. Physical signs include diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, pale gums, cold extremities, seizures, and a coma.

The lungs and liver may also be affected. Any signs of anaphylactic shock should prompt an emergency veterinarian visit. It’s difficult to predict if a dog will have mild to moderate swelling or anaphylaxis, so closely monitor them and discuss the issue with a veterinarian if they experience a severe reaction.

How to Comfort Your Dog After a Bee Sting

If your dog shows no signs of an allergic reaction after 30 minutes to an hour, focus on making them more comfortable. Your veterinarian may recommend over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines like Benadryl, but use the recommended dosage for your dog.

Most dogs will experience a sensitive and puffy sting area, so remove the stinger with tweezers immediately to ease pain and prevent venom spread. Most dogs should feel better within a few hours and return to normal within a day or two. To lessen swelling and inflammation, apply a damp towel to the sting site.

Anaphylactic reactions, the scariest and most lethal allergic reactions, occur when dogs are bitten by an insect or have an injection of a medication they are allergic to. Antibodies produced by the host react to the substance, dropping blood pressure and sending the body into shock.

If a dog has had a past incident and survived, the owner may carry an epipen, but sometimes the first occurrence can lead to death. These reactions are very rare in dogs. If you notice any unusual changes or symptoms, contact your vet immediately.

Signs that You Should See the Vet

If your pet shows signs of an allergic reaction or airway blockage, it’s crucial to take them to the vet immediately. If they’ve had a previous sting reaction, they should be evaluated immediately. Additionally, if your pet has been stung multiple times, they should be checked due to the higher level of toxicity from multiple stings.

Should I Give My Dog Antihistamines?

Antihistamines can help reduce swelling in dogs, especially during hikes or when a veterinarian is visiting for a thorough evaluation. It is essential to consult your veterinarian about the correct dosage of Benadryl, which is generally 1 milligram per pound of body weight.

For a 25-pound dog, one 25-milligram tablet is needed. It is crucial to use normal Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) and not Benadryl-D, as Benadryl-D contains a toxic decongestant. Always consult your veterinarian for the correct dosage.

Final Thoughts

Veterinarians may prescribe an “epi-pen” for dogs with past anaphylactic reactions, a special syringe and needle filled with a single dose of epinephrine, similar to those used for highly allergic individuals. These are used in emergency situations, such as trips or hikes, when a pet experiences another severe reaction.

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Amy Towry is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats and a rescue dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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