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What to do when your dog gets stung

I have to admit that before I began this website, I had never heard of a dog getting an anaphylactic reaction from a bee sting. Since then, however, many people have reported severe allergic responses in their dogs. Today, Emily Wilson of DesirablePuppy shares some of her expertise. Thank you, Emily.


Introduction

If you have ever seen a dog get stung by a wasp or bee and suffer an allergic reaction, then you have no doubt it can be scary. But how was your dog to know that chasing bugs was a no-no? However, if this happens, the best course of action is to NOT panic.

Reasons why dogs get stung

When your dog gets stung, he's often chasing bees.
Young dogs are curious about everything that moves, even bees and wasps. Pixabay public domain photo.

Dogs are usually fascinated by insects. They like to stalk and observe various bugs that move cross their turf. Whereas many dogs enjoy chasing insects around the backyard, some insects can do serious damage, namely the stinging insects such as bees or wasps. Unfortunately, most stings occur when the insect feels threatened. Our dogs are funny and cute to us, but to a hornet, wasp, or bee, they are terrifying.

Most dogs suffer stings to their paw, face or even the inside of their mouth. The stings occur when a rambunctious dog chases a bee, snaps at a hornet, or digs an underground wasp nest. Often, inquisitive dogs get stings which can be painful and life-threatening. Multiple stings in the throat or mouth are especially dangerous.

Signs that your dog has been stung include whining, hives, drooling, pawing at the eyes or face, and facial swelling. When this happens, don’t hesitate to seek veterinary advice on how to sedate your dog.

As in humans, it’s impossible to tell which dogs will simply learn a painful lesson, and which ones will have a serious allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis, a severe and life threatening allergic reaction may occur quickly, and the speed of your treatment can make all the difference. The signs of anaphylaxis include difficulty breathing, collapse, and swelling of the throat.

Things to do when the dog gets stung

1) Remove the stinger

You should use the fingernail or even a rigid cardboard piece so as to force out the stinger. If it is possible, always avoid using forceps or tweezers because pinching this stinger might force more venom into the dog.

2) Ease the sting pains

A weak mixture of baking soda and water applied to affected areas can help to reduce the pain. Applying an ice pack that’s wrapped in a towel might also help in alleviating pain and swellings. Make sure you don’t contact your pet’s skin with an uncovered ice pack.

3) Watch for a reaction

Some dog species are more allergic to ant and bee stings. As such, you should know how to keep ants away from dog food to avoid

If your dog shows signs of stress, bring him to the vet for examination.
If your dog shows signs of stress, bring him to the vet for examination. Pixabay public domain photo.

such stings. Allergic reactions could be fatal, so always look out for signs like general weakness, swellings away from the bee sting site, and difficulty breathing. If the above symptoms occur, ensure that you call your veterinarian and let him know the situation of your dog.

4) Go to your vet

If your dog exhibits allergic reactions, has been stung several times, or has been stung in the throat or mouth, you should take him to your vet immediately. There are some serious signs such as heavy breathing, shortness of breath, and pale skin that require a veterinary professional. At the laboratory, based on the reaction of your dog, the veterinarian will stabilize your dog and perform an examination.

Tips to keep your dog from being stung

While it is impossible to keep wasps and bees from flying into your backyard, you can help prevent future bee stings by doing a few things such as keeping the dog away from your flower beds where bees like to collect nectar and pollen.

Check the eaves round your homestead to make sure that you aren’t unknowingly playing host to wasp nests and bee hives. If you install wasp traps, ensure that they’re hung high enough so that children and pets cannot reach them.

Also training a dog the basic “come” and “stay” command can be useful in ensuring he doesn’t stray into dangerous bee and wasp territories.

Some final advice

Make sure that you check the pets’ water bowls on a regular basis. Wasps and bees can drown inside these bowls, but their stingers will still be capable of doing damage to dogs that decide the insect can be a tasty snack! Remember, preventative measures can actually make a very big difference to your dog, and also prevent medical emergencies and big vet bills.

If you like this article, let’s share it with your friends.

Emily Wilson

About the Author:

Emily is the founder of DesirablePuppy, where she writes about foodstuff as well as best products for dogs and lots of small tips on training dogs. Moreover, DesirablePuppy is designed to share her passion with dog owners and help to keep you in the know about your best friend.

If your dog is prone to allergies, keep him away from the flowers where bees are plentiful.
If your dog is prone to allergies, keep him away from the flowers where bees are plentiful. Pixabay public domain photo.

Comments

Miriam Valere
Reply

I had my dog in my apiary last year when I was doing some work–and he got stung and became very sick almost immediately. Luckily it didn’t become a full blown episode and some Benadryl kept him comfortable. He won’t go anywhere near my bee hives now.

Rusty
Reply

Miriam,

Interesting. They are all so different. My dog munches on bees as if they were peanuts . . . if one is good, more is better. I’m always afraid he’ll eat a queen on a mating flight.

Jeffrey
Reply

Rusty,

My dog loves to go with me wherever I go. He is a 2 year old English Mastiff that tops out at 190 lbs and still growing. Last year he found out that he is no match for an insect that only weighs grams. He decided to go a round with one honey bee that flew past his nose. He Lost! I watched him closely and noticed his jowl skin swelling to 3 times its normal size on just one side. I called the vet and they told me too give him six benadryl at one time due to his size. Glad to say he is fine but he still wants to help me with the bees. I think he has learned some respect for them as he just sits and watches anymore. I always keep a full bottle of benadryl with us when we go outside. I also will not let him near the hives if I have to open one. I asked the vet if they make a epipen pen for dogs and he said no, if the dog doesn’t respond to the medication to bring him in and he will give him a shot. So far he has done fine with the benadryl. He got stung above the eye last fall trying to sniff a wasp off a flower. I guess he just likes flying insects.

I nicknamed him Einstein. Sometimes he’s just not that bright.

Rusty
Reply

Jeffrey,

Einstein. That’s cute. My dog gags after he swallows a bee. It sounds like he’s dying, but as soon as he’s done gagging, he goes and catches another. Talk about Einstein.

Anne
Reply

Thank you. I had a dog that went frantic one day rubbing her jaw nearly raw on the ground and I could not work out what was wrong so went to the vet. She had been stung. Now I know what to look out for and what to do so your article is appreciated.

Blaine Nay
Reply

Back in the late ’70s we had a pair of cocker spaniels along with chickens, goats, rabbits, and bees. The light-colored female cocker spaniel enjoyed catching and eating my bees. Occasionally, she’d rub her nose in the grass — probably because she’d been stung. But, she never showed any other adverse effects from the stings and she never experienced a mass attack. Shortly after we bought the dark-colored male, we found him dead from what seemed to be scores, maybe hundreds, of stings. He may have been allergic, but I think that it was the quantity of stings that overwhelmed him. I suspect that his dark brown coat attracted the attack.

Rusty
Reply

Blaine,

That is so sad, surprising too.

Kendra
Reply

I almost lost my pup to anaphylaxis a few years ago. Not sure what got her (didn’t have bees at the time), but her muzzle was swollen. Gave her some Benadryl at vets request, but hours later she went into shock. We rushed her to emergency where they shot her up with steroids and fluids. She’s fine, but in the future there will be Benadryl followed by an immediate trip to the vet!

Delmas Freeman
Reply

Have an ageing Corgi Mix. He around the bee yard. After learning the do’s and don’ts of where to put your nose. He’s learned to respect them. Now his double Corgi coat is also handy body armor… Glad to say we never had any allergic reactions during his sometimes painful learning process.

Sharon Klemm
Reply

Might be a good idea to ask your vets the proper dosage of Benadryl for your size dog before you need it. Panic tends to make us kind of stupid. Also worth noting that it is usually not a good idea to try and get an animal that is getting shocky, is unconscious or having difficulty swallowing to take anything by mouth. In my experience, a phone call to the vet after a sting is well worth the other option which is a dead dog. My dog got stung and within minutes her whole head swelled up 3 times its normal size. Way scary.

Brad
Reply

Anaphylaxis can also manifest with low blood pressure such that the victim passes out. I’m allergic to bee venom and that’s how I had my first episode. I assume the same thing happens with dogs Also bee venom allergy develops with exposure to stings. Remember the first few stings may not manifest as an allergy but later stings can cause your dog an allergic reaction. Benedryl takes a while to impact the reaction perhaps too long to save your dog from a serious reaction.

Holly
Reply

That’s how my anaphylaxis presented as well, so I had the same thought, Brad. I know of another beekeeper who experienced severe gastrointestinal distress (vomitting) with his anaphylaxis. There are so many symptoms to consider. In my kit, I include benadryl in quick-dissolve form. Might be a good option for dogs.

Brad
Reply

It would be interesting to know how many beekeepers are allergic to bee venom. And how many see an allergist for treatment.

Holly
Reply

I’m getting allergy shots. It’s a long-haul investment that requires commitment. From the biomedical literature I’ve read, not surprisingly the incidence rate among beekeepers and their family members is significantly higher than the general population. I think too many forego treatment, but as popular as beekeeping has become in the past 5 or 10 years, I think we’ll hear more and more of beekeepers getting immunotherapy shots. On my own blog,How much does Venom Immunotherapy cost? is one of my most-read posts.

Karen
Reply

I’m surprised the article didn’t mention this specific problem for black dogs – apparently they are like bears to the bees and they attack for no reason. On a few occasions, Shadow was just laying there, a good 50 feet away but if hives were opened, the bees went to him like a magnet. Always feel so bad since he never did anything wrong. Just a problem for black dogs.

Mike
Reply

Everyone was so worried when I started keeping bees.. “what about the grand children?”,”what about the dogs. ”

I have found that kids and digs are very much the same, once they have been chased or stung once by an irate worker they keep their distance 😀

Penny Robertson
Reply

Our lurcher is dark grey and rough coated and has been stung a few times when bees have got caught in her fur. We’ve been advised to give her an antihistamine tablet but now she’s learned to avoid them at all costs. Won’t even go outside if she hears a buzz out there and when she sees us wearing our bee suits she runs into her crate for safety. We just don’t take her with us when we go out to do our bees any more.

MarianA
Reply

Our red tri Aussie (dark brown) has learned that as well. He got a couple trapped in his ear hair (very long and fine) and now anything that buzzes causes a quick run to the door or to his doghouse. He associates the bee suits with loose bees, but it’s the buzzing that really does causes him to run.

Martin Reed
Reply

My Cocker Spaniel had a severe reaction to a bee sting – eyes closed, foaming at mouth, couldn’t stand up, shaking.

Got him into the emergency room at vets and after treatment with steroids etc, he was OK.

Vet prescribed an epipen with the right dose for a dog [human dose would kill him] and took it to chemist. ‘Who is it for?’ I was asked. ‘My dog’ I replied. She gave me a look.

He seems to have learnt not to go in the apiary. I don’t take him when I’m doing inspections, but its on the route of where I walk him and I can’t resist a quick look. He sits outside as does my other Cocker and waits for me, which for a hyper active dogs like a Cocker is amazing.

donna
Reply

I wonder how to keep cats/kittens away from the bee yard? There is some feral barn cat colonies on our street/ neighborhood and I am afraid for any “collisions” between the two…does anyone have any experience or suggestions?

Rusty
Reply

Donna,

No suggestions but my cats, both dark-colored, will actually sit on the roofs of the hives to groom in the sun. It’s been going on for years and I don’t know if they’ve been stung or not. Weird, right?

Jeff
Reply

Coffee grounds and orange peel scattered around the apiary (or your prized flower bed) should deter cats.

Although, caffeine is thought to be a stimulant for bees and orange peel may attract wasps and hornets?

Jeff
Reply

Many toxins, especially the anticoagulant rodent bait type poisons are very toxic to dogs. A sub lethal dose for a healthy large rat, will often be fatal for a large (think Labrador) dog. I read in a book somewhere (I have LOTS of books!) bee venom is also more toxic to dogs than say humans. So if a sting causes us pain and swelling, the result may be tenfold for a dog, thus the cases of canine anaphylaxis are higher per sting than they are in humans.

Having said that, our two German Wirehaired Pointers literally hunt bees. The dogs are in a large fenced run less than 30 yards from my hives, but they start early Spring with bumblebees. Often the bees will be cold, tired and walking among the grass in their run. They will stalk and point the bees before pouncing upon them. They do not simply “snap and devour” the victims, but grab them softly in their jowls whilst shaking their heads side to side. They produce an awful lot of saliva in the process and often the bee will be flicked in a gooey mess onto the grass, should it continue to buzz, the process is repeated until the bee ceases to become a threat. Most often, the bee is not eaten, so the way I see it, our dogs see the bees as a threat rather than a snack and they do the same for bumble, honey bees or wasps.

Our cat? Well with her being a cat and all, she rules the yard (and the house!) as only cats can. Just like your own Rusty, she will perch on the telescopic roofs of hives, but also when I am in the apiary, she will be within a couple of feet of me and will shove her nose into each hive entrance we pass. Even with reduced entrances, she will push her nose into the entrance for a second or two, completely sealing the entry, but never seems to get stung!

Rusty
Reply

Thanks, Jeff! I learned some stuff.

Jeff
Reply

No scientific research here, but I believe both dogs may have been stung early in their lives (one is now 12 years old, the other 7) and the behavior I witness from them is a preemptive defense of eliminate the source before it can inflict pain. The excess saliva may be a sting defense mechanism to coat the bee in drool and thus render the stinger ineffectual. It is not a symptom from being stung. Often I sit and observe them doing a bee kill, then inspect their mouths, tongues and gums for stings and never find any.

One thing I would not recommend is to travel with both a hive of bees and an unrestrained dog in the same enclosed vehicle. In my experience the noise and possibly aroma of the colony severely stress the dog to the point of they will do just about anything to get as far away as possible….. including trying to sit on the vehicle drivers lap! But, that is just my experience, with my dog, others may differ.

donna
Reply

That IS pretty amazing! I am glad to hear about your experience, so maybe they will be fine then. Cats and sunny spaces….!

Judy
Reply

I have a black kitty who got stung around 12 years. No reaction except that she was very frightened. She ran around the yard, then into the house. I was able to remove bee and stinger. I think the buzzing of the bee (stuck in her hair) scared her more than the sting. She’s been wary of hives ever since. My vet (who I’ve worked for in the past) thinks I need to keep a bottle of epinepherine and a syringe for the cats.

Rusty
Reply

Judy,

Did the vet give you dosage guidelines? I’m afraid I would kill the cat.

Judy
Reply

Rusty,
I agree, people who have never been vet assistants, techs or vets shouldn’t “try this at home”! But you should ask your vet for doseage and he/she might even encourage you to always keep epinepherine around since you have bees. I don’t want to post doseage here for the same reason our bee club doesn’t recommend a particular mite treatment. We want to stay out of trouble!

Rusty
Reply

Judy,

That’s a good philosophy.

Brad
Reply

I’ve doing it for about two years. I’m pretty sure I would have given up beekeeping if I had to rely on an epipen to be safe. One of my coworkers is also a bee allergic beekeeper. I’ve read that the incidence of venom allergies is much higher in beekeepers than in the general population.

Barbran
Reply

As a new beek, I’m gearing up in anticipation of bee pkg arrival in a couple weeks so I just called my vet to see what they recommend for dosing my two rowdy adolescent 75# dogs: “Be sure it’s straight Diphenhydramine, you can get a generic but make sure it’s “straight”. Benadryl comes in 25mg tablets, dose 1 per 25# body weight” so for me, that means 3 tablets. Bought a 100 count box of Benadryl from smile.amazon.com for $11.94 and since it’s “Smile Eligible”, that means the charity of my choice gets a small donation from AMZN – sweet! Can anyone recommend a legit bee charity? I like to cycle through my charitable donations about quarterly.

Holly
Reply

My bee charity of choice is HoneyLove. They worked to legalize urban beekeeping in the LA area and now focus on “educational outreach, community action and advocacy efforts to protect the health and well-being of honey bees.” Nice people. Their website is honeylove.org

Helen
Reply

My new dog was stung on the paw, he stepped on a bee crawling in front of the hive. I just happened to witness it, and within 5 minutes he violently vomited, enough that we thought he was choking to death, and then he fell straight forward onto his face. He didn’t get up. As a beekeeper who is also allergic and gets allergy shots, I immediately made the connection and threw him into the car for a breakneck drive to the emergency vet. They saved his life. There was no time for Benadryl. He is too small for a child epi-pen, and they don’t make one for dogs (?!!!). We moved the hives the next day, away from the house, we keep the dogs inside when we work the hives, and we fenced them off just in case he wanders down there. He now avoids bees and flies and anything similar, so he hasn’t had an episode since. White gums- if your dog gets stung, check their gums- they turn ghost white when in shock. The other interesting thing was that he had absolutely no local swelling at the tiny sting site. If I had not seen it, we would have never known what happened.

Blake Santaniello
Reply

I have 3 little dogs and they all have had their shareof being stung at least once, none with reactions though, but the smartest one has reacted by staying clear away now. When i am watching my bees he lays across the yard and watches from the distance, not from my lap like he used to. Everyonce and a while when the bees are really active and around the whole yard he wont even like to leave the screened patio, he will run out do his business and come right back in. Crazy how fast he learned.

Barbran
Reply

Thanks, Holly! They’re listed on the Smile.Amazon.com site (almost a million charities registered and in good standing with the IRS, as provided to Amazon by GuideStar USA) so I just selected them as my new charity 🙂 If you have contacts there, please ask them to read about the AmazonSmile Program Details at smile.amazon.com so they can get set up to receive auto-deposits quarterly. (Otherwise, I believe the AmazonSmile program automatically reaches out to them via email.) HoneyLove.org might also want to incorporate AmazonSmile in their marketing/fundraising efforts because as the honeybees remind us daily, many tiny efforts amount to a wonderfully BIG result!

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