Although not all that common, dogs being stung by bees can still happen. And if they do, they will usually occur somewhere around the dog’s paws, snout, or face.
Most stings won’t cause more than a mild reaction in dogs, which can be easily treated with topical medications that are pre-approved by a vet.
The symptoms will only become severe if the dog is allergic, in which case they can become life-threatening pretty fast.
Although you’ve surely seen dogs playing with bees and trying to catch them in mid-flight, dog bee stings are very uncommon because most of the time these tiny insects will manage to escape. But you should always be prepared and know exactly what to do in the event that your dog is stung by a bee.
You will have to know how to identify the symptoms of a bee sting and how to treat it at home, as well as when it is a good idea to talk to a veterinarian, to prevent any unneeded discomfort or pain and make your dog feel better.
Most of the time, a bee sting on your dog will be visible as a small, swollen area that could be warm to the touch and red. Most dogs are also sensitive around the stung area and will react pretty violently when you try to touch them. Although bees can sting a dog anywhere on its body, it will be the face that will most often get stung.
As you might expect, stings caused by both bees and other insects will only happen during the warm months when they roam around, which makes them seasonal issues.
Considering that it is pretty hard to find the actual stinger, most pet owners will have to assume that their pets have been stung by a bee, a wasp, or even a hornet, based on the noticeable symptoms. And that’s not all. Depending on the actual location of the sting, you might not even be able to see the mark or bump. You might be able to notice a small limp or a scratch of certain areas when the sting is located on the foot or leg.
If a dog is stung by a bee, symptoms range from very mild irritation to a serious medical condition requiring veterinary care.
Severe symptoms include:
Moderate symptoms include:
Mild symptoms to look for:
A dog will usually experience severe symptoms if he is stung by multiple bees or is allergic to bee stings. Multiple stings will only happen if the dog disturbs a bee hive or a wasp hive. Although a bee can only sting once, a wasp can sting multiple times.
In the case of dogs with bee allergies, a single sting can become life-threatening, which is why veterinarian care is a must. As in the case of humans, among severe symptoms of allergies is anaphylactic shock, which closes down the throat, and makes it hard for the dog to breathe.
Dogs who like to chase insects like hornets, wasps, or bees, as well as dogs that like to smell flowers are usually at a higher risk of getting stung. At the same time, dogs that like to put their noses into all kinds of holes in the ground and dogs that like to dig up the yard can easily get stung by ground bees.
There are other risk factors as well, like spending a lot of time outdoors or near pollinator habitats.
The easiest way of diagnosing a bee sting at home is for you to find the stinger or see the sting happen, but considering that it happens pretty rarely to see one of these things, most dog owners will be left with getting confirmation from a vet when seeing a combination of the most common symptoms.
A complete physical exam and a thorough history of the health of your pet will usually be needed at the veterinary clinic to diagnose a bee sting.
Considering that itching, pain, and swelling are also symptoms of other medical problems like infections, even if you’re convinced that a bee sting is to blame, if these symptoms don’t get better within a couple of days, make sure you get in touch with a vet for a proper examination.
Also, seeing that an allergic reaction can become fatal quite quickly, it’s very important to go to the emergency room if you notice extreme swelling or difficulty in breathing.
You should always stay calm, even when you see the dog getting stung in front of you. Most of the time, a bee sting on your dog can easily be treated at home. The only things to be prepared for are a visit to the emergency clinic if the symptoms get severe and the dog looks like having an anaphylactic shock and taking the dog to a veterinarian if his symptoms move past moderate levels.
If the stinger is still present inside the swollen area, try removing it using a brushing stroke to make sure you don’t crush it. You should also try to prevent the pet from scratching the area because this will only make things worse, by allowing the venom to cause irritation and spread more.
You should never try to suck the venom out or bandage the area because these techniques don’t work at all and on top of that, are also very unhygienic. You can, instead, place an ice pack or a cold compress on the swollen area to alleviate some of the symptoms. Before applying any ointments, even if they were effective in the past, talk to your veterinarian. Also keep in mind that even though a product might be safe for people, it doesn’t mean that it is also safe for pets like dogs. You might have heard that Benadryl (diphenhydramine) works great for dogs stung by bees, but keep in mind that not all dogs will react in a positive way to the medicine, so talk to your vet before giving it to your pet.
When dealing with just a minor reaction to the bee sting, your dog should be OK and fully healed within a day or two. You should only act on it if you notice your dog limping. If the sting wasn’t’ around the paws, you can relax and let it heal by itself.
Never postpone a visit to the vet if you notice that the symptoms do not get better or get worse. There are always other types of medications that a professional will be able o prescribe to help your dog get over the bee sting reaction.
When dealing with a moderate bee sting reaction, you will usually spend somewhere between $100 and $400.
When it comes to a more severe reaction or even an allergic reaction, stronger medical treatment might be required. The cost will easily go over the $1,500 mark if your dog will have to stay in the emergency clinic overnight. Don’t be afraid; severe types of reactions are pretty rare.