Bee & Wasp Stings
Spring flowers are blooming, the weather is warming as bees become more active during the warmth of the day.
Because dogs are curious, faces are common places to get a bee sting, especially on the nose or mouth when your dog may try to chase or capture them. Pads are another likely spot when your dog accidentally steps on a bess. Stings on the skin’s surface are generally nothing to worry about, resulting in mild swelling and irritation that goes away in a couple of hours.
But if your dog inhales or swallows a bee, or gets stung near the throat, this can lead to their airway to be blocked due to the swelling, and consequently calls for immediate treatment. The same goes if your dog has a strong allergic reactions to the bee sting.
Common signs of bee stings in dogs
• Nibbling or biting on a particular area
• Excessive licking on a particular area
• Holding their paw up
• Pawing on areas such as their mouth, face, or nose.
• Redness and swelling on a particular area
The easiest way to tell if your dog has been stung by a bee is to watch for any signs of swelling on their face or body. Your dog might tell you something is wrong if they paw at their face or whichever spot on their body was stung.
When A Bee Sting Is Serious
• If the reaction to the sting is severe it can cause the airways to close causing the pet to asphyxiate – the sting doesn’t have to be near the face to cause this to happen
• If your pet collapses or if there is any swelling around the face or throat, trouble breathing, pale gums or pain, seek a veterinary help immediately
The most important thing to do is to watch your dog closely for any signs or symptoms of anaphylactic shock. These reactions can be fatal, so it’s essential to act quickly. Allergic reactions will usually occur within the first 30 minutes. If you see any of the following, call your vet immediately:
• Excessive drooling: this can happen when there is swelling in the throat or difficulty swallowing
• Pale gums: gums that are more pale than usual or get paler over time
• Wheezing or trouble breathing: from swelling in the throat or closure of respiratory passages
• Hives: red or raised bumps on the hairless areas of the body may indicate an allergic reaction
• Severe swelling: even if the sting didn’t occur in the facial area, swelling around the head or neck can affect breathing
• Vomiting or diarrhea: this will usually happen within 5-10 minutes after the sting when the body is trying to expel the venom
• Disorientation: a dog that isn’t alert or that stumbles around is having a more severe reaction that needs attention
• Seizures: dogs can become overly anxious, agitated, or suddenly aggressive. Which can be a sign the venom has affected the nervous symptom, but seizures are a definite sign
Any of the above reactions are serious – visit a vet asap. For less serious bee stings, here’s what to do.
First – Remove The Stinger
For less severe reactions, the first thing to do is to check and see if the bee left a stinger in your dog.
Unlike other stinging insects like wasps and hornets, bees leave their stinger behind. Bee stingers contain venom, so the longer the stinger is in your dog, the more venom they’ll get. Also, honeybee stingers are barbed, which makes them more painful.
Act fast to get the stinger out of your dog. But you want to remove the stinger carefully, without squeezing more venom into your dog.
Make sure your dog stays still. You can scrape the stinger out with something that has a straight edge like a credit card, a key, or your fingernail. It’s best not to use tweezers because they can release more venom by squeezing the stinger.
Speed is of the utmost importance – use whatever you can find quickly!
After you’ve removed the bee stinger from your dog, clean up the spot with soap and water. Then you can use some topical remedies to make your dog as comfortable as possible.
Natural First Aid To Ease Discomfort From A Bee Sting
Ice Pack – Wrap ice in a towel and apply it to the site to help reduce swelling. It is also the most effective way to keep the venom from absorbing. Do this after you wash the area with soap and water. This method should only need to be done once or twice for about 5-10 minutes.
Baking Soda – This treatment option is one of the most effective. Mix Baking Soda with water to make a thick paste and then slather onto the affected area, it neutralises the acid from the bee venom.
Because of this, the pain and other effects of the venom will subside faster. Leave the paste on for about 15 min to give it time to work, then rinse it off. Reapply as needed to treat the symptoms
Apple cider vinegar – Another option that may also help neutralise bee venom. Mix 3/4 part apple cider vinegar with 1/4 part water. Soak a cloth in the mixture and apply it to the site for 5 minutes to reduce pain.
You can continue this method up to 3 times a day for 2-3 days to help with swelling and inflammation. You don’t have to keep it on for 5 minutes for that long after the first day, just give it a good soaking.
Apple cider vinegar has anti-itching and antiseptic properties, it can safely be used on the nose and mouth of your dog. You can also choose to soak the site if the sting occurred on a site such as your dog’s paw.
Honey – Can help with pain and wound healing. Dab a little raw honey onto the area. Humans have used honey to treat bee stings for years, as it is thought to help with healing the sting site. It can also reduce pain and itching. You’ll apply a small amount to the affected area and cover with a loose bandage for up to an hour.
Aloe Vera – The gel is very soothing and calming to the skin. You can buy a pet-friendly brand or use aloe vera directly from the plant if you have one handy. Squeeze a small amount onto the skin and gently rub it in. Repeat as necessary to help with any discomfort.
Oatmeal Paste – Grind oats into a fine powder and add water to make a past. Place it on the bee sting site for 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off.
Witch Hazel – Dab some witch hazel on the area to help reduce swelling, pain and itching.
Plant flowers that attract butterflies instead of bees, such as jasmine and zinnias. Crimson coloured flowers can also deter bees, as can Citronella candles. Walk your dog on a leash around flowering gardens, and avoid ground cover with flowers on your walk.
Use Caution, But Don’t Stress – We need bees to pollinate flowers and trees, so try not to kill them if you can help it.