Dogs are adventurous and like to be outside. They are also curious and often explore things with their noses and paws, two of the prime targets for bee stings. Just like for humans, bee and insect stings can be painful for dogs and cause a reaction.
How to identify that your dog was stung by a bee
Typically, a bee sting will cause swelling to the affected area, which may be painful or itchy. Sometimes dogs will bite or scratch at the area where they were stung due to the irritation and inflammation. Sudden pawing or swelling in a certain area is a sign that your dog might have been stung or bitten by an insect.
Check the area for any abandoned stingers left in your dog’s skin. If your dog was stung by a bee, they might have left behind the stinger. Other insects don’t leave stingers, but there might be a small bite mark or red spot on your dog’s skin.
What to do if your dog is stung by a bee
- Remove the stinger – The first thing to do after your dog has been stung by a bee is to remove any stingers left in the skin. Bee stingers secrete venom, so removing it will reduce the amount of toxins injected into your dog’s body.
- Soothe the area with baking soda – Mix together baking soda and a small amount of water to form a paste. Gently apply this to your dog’s skin. If your dog was stung by multiple bees, draw a soothing bath with oatmeal.
- Minimize any swelling with ice – Apply an ice pack to the sting for ten minutes to reduce swelling. Make sure to place a towel or other layer between the skin and ice pack.
- If needed, give your dog an antihistamine – If your dog is having a more serious reaction to the sting or bite, an oral antihistamine like Benadryl will reduce the reaction and itchiness. Consult your vet for the proper dosing for your dog.
- Monitor your dog for any serious reactions – Allergic reactions typically occur within 20 minutes of the bite or sting, so monitor your dog closely during this time. If your dog experiences serious swelling, pain, difficulty breathing, or other physical symptoms, consult a vet.
- Prevent scratching – Keep your dog from scratching or biting the sting or bite. This can be done with a head cone. If your dog was stung on their leg or paw, you can cover the area with a long sock. Scratching and licking will increase irritation and delay healing.
- Keep your dog fed and hydrated – Make sure to give your dog plenty of fresh water. If your dog was stung on the mouth, they might find it hard to chew dry or hard food. Dry food that has been softened with water will be easier for your dog to ingest.
Signs of a serious allergic reaction
If your dog displays any signs of a serious reaction, go to your vet immediately. Symptoms of a serious reaction can include:
- Severe swelling
- Wheezing, panting, or difficulty breathing
Most dogs won’t have serious reactions to bee stings, but you should be prepared in case they do. Bee stings and other bug bites can cause your dog to go into anaphylactic shock. This can be fatal if you don’t seek immediate veterinary attention.
In general, it is best to take preventative steps to avoid bee stings and insect bites. If your yard has ant hills, beehives, or wasp nests, get them treated and keep your dog away from the area. If your dog is outside or at the park, keep an eye on them and what they’re doing.