Bees are an essential part of our ecosystem but can also pose a risk to our dogs.
If your dog gets stung by a bee, it can be a painful experience for them, and as a responsible pet parent, it’s essential to know how to provide first aid for bee stings.
As a dog mom, my dogs can get stung by a bee anytime they are outside in the yard.
As a certified pet first aid instructor, I’ve heard my fair share of stories from pet parents or pet industry professionals who have experienced this scary situation and not knowing what to do.
In this post, you will learn some essential pet first aid tips to help your dog if they get stung by a bee, how to identify signs of bee stings in dogs, recognize the warning signs of allergic reactions to bee stings in dogs, and more.
This blog is about handling a bee sting emergency with your dog.
What to Do If a Bee Stings Your Dog
What Happens When A Bee Stings Your Dog?
Bees have a barbed stinger that detaches from their body and is injected into the dog’s skin.
The bee’s stinger has a venom sack containing toxins that are released into the dog’s system and will continue to release venom until the stinger is removed.
The venom from a bee’s stinger causes the immune cells of a dog’s body to act abnormally because the cells cannot recognize and fight against the toxins.
The bee’s stinger is not what actually causes pain but is caused by the venom injected from the stinger.
Are All Bee Stings the Same?
Just like all dogs are not the same, all bees are not the same.
There are two different groups of these insects, Apidae and Vespidae.
Honey Bees and African Killer Bees fall under the Apidae group.
Honey Bees typically only sting if provoked, but African Killer Bees are more aggressive and will come after you or your dog and sting in a group form.
Honey Bees and African Killer Bees will die after stinging since the stinger detaches from their bodies.
Wasps, Hornets, and Yellow Jackets are part of the Vespidae group.
All three of these insects are known to be more aggressive and can sting a dog or human multiple times.
Their stingers do not detach from their bodies and will not die after stinging.
How to Tell If Your Dog Got Stung By a Bee.
Unless you see a bee on your dog when it stings, or you see the little bee’s body after, it may be challenging to know if your dog has been stung by a bee.
Typical signs your dog has been stung by a bee include, but are not limited to:
- Yelping or Whining
- Licking, Chewing, Pawing, or Scratching the sting site
- Minor swelling and redness of the sting site
- Visible Stinger
- Hives and/or Welts
- Lip Smacking
Allergic Reactions to Bee Stings In Dogs.
Like humans, dogs can have a severe adverse reaction to bee stings.
Dog parents must recognize the warning signs of an allergic reaction and get immediate veterinary care.
Signs of an allergic reaction to bee stings in dogs include, but are not limited to:
- Swelling around the sting area increases in size
- Dog’s face begins to swell or becomes swollen
- Pale or Light Grey colored gums
- Difficulty Breathing
- Loss of Consciousness
- Unsteady when attempting to walk
- Acting agitated
- Behaving aggressively
Allergic reactions will typically be seen in your dog within 5-10 minutes after being stung.
However, some signs of allergic reactions can develop hours later.
Some dogs can experience delayed hypersensitivity allergic reactions to bee stings, typically occurring 3-14 days after.
If your dog shows any warning signs of an allergic reaction, immediately get them to the vet as soon as possible.
Dogs experiencing an allergic reaction to a bee sting can undergo anaphylaxis shock.
Anaphylaxis primarily affects the lungs and airways, with the throat swelling and closing of the airways.
In dogs, anaphylaxis also affects their gastrointestinal tract by releasing antihistamines into the liver and elevating the liver enzymes.
Allergic reactions and anaphylaxis can be fatal to dogs without immediate veterinary medical intervention.
How to Treat a Bee Sting For Dogs.
One of the most critical steps to take after your dog is stung by a bee is to monitor for an allergic reaction.
Any dog who has suffered a bee sting before or is stung by multiple bees at once is likelier to have an allergic reaction.
If your dog is stung in the neck or face and develops severe swelling, monitoring your dog’s breathing is essential.
Next, check the sting site and see if you can find the stinger.
If you can see the stinger, take a credit card or piece of cardboard, and scrape the stinger out.
Don’t use your fingers or tweezers to try to remove the stinger.
The pressure from squeezing your fingers or the tweezers can rupture the venom sack and inject more toxins into your dog’s system.
Then, place a cold compress, ice pack, or bag of frozen peas on the sting site to help reduce any minor swelling and alleviate any discomfort your dog may have.
Next, you can give your dog an antihistamine like Benadryl as a precaution or wait until directed by the vet team to do so.
If you decide to give your dog an antihistamine, whether it’s Benadryl or another over-the-counter brand, be sure the only ingredient is diphenhydramine.
DO NOT give any antihistamines with pain relievers or children’s antihistamines.
Pain relievers often contain ingredients with acetaminophen, and children’s medications are typically flavored with ingredients containing xylitol.
Acetaminophen and xylitol are both extremely dangerous and toxic to dogs.
Next, call your vet or the nearest emergency vet hospital to tell them what happened and ask if your dog needs to be taken in.
Be sure to inform the vet staff of the location of the bee sting.
Severe reactions typically happen if your dog was stung inside their mouth, around the throat, multiple times, or has eaten a bee.
As a pet parent, it is essential to be prepared for any emergency situation that may arise, including bee stings.
By learning about bee stings in dogs, you understand how bee stings affect dogs, can assess the situation when your dog gets stung by a bee, recognize the signs of an allergic reaction to bee stings, and render immediate pet first aid.