A dog stung by bee experiences the same symptoms as humans (pain, itchiness, redness at the place of the sting wound; swelling of the lips, tongue and face, difficulty breathing, and even anaphylactic shock) and the severity of symptoms varies according to the type of bee, the site of the sting and dog’s general health. In general, European bees are less venomous than African bees; African bees are also more aggressive and tend to respond in pack when disturbed.
The best way to prevent your dog being stung by bees is to steer away from areas where bees normally live. Unfortunately, accidents can happen even if you take great care when walking or exercising your dog outside. In such cases, it is very important to know what are the immediate danger of bee stings as well as what first aid is necessary. Both topics, including what to do is your dogs eats a bee, are discussed in the following lines.
My dog got stung by a bee – is that dangerous ?
Bees are among the most common types of stinging insects. Although they are not aggressive and will sting only if threatened or provoked, many dogs get stung by bees just because they are too curious and often will try to chase or eat them. Bee stings are painful and the pain level varies according to the location of the sting – for instance a sting on your dog’s nose will be much more painful than a sting on the back. However, not the pain but the poison that is injected in the dog’s body by the stinger and the reaction to that poison present the real danger of bee stings.
Just like people, dogs may be allergic to insects and bee poison in particular. Additionally, dogs that are allergic to other things (foods, environment factors, etc.) are more at risk if stung by a bee. To find out if your dog does have allergies, you should check out this great article on testing your dog for allergies.So, a single bee sting is not dangerous, unless your pet is allergic. If your dog got stung multiple times or if the sting is inside his or her mouth, throat, ear or near the eyes, you should look for medical assistance.
When discussing the danger that bee stings present to dogs, we need to mention one other issue. Normally, when a bee stings, its stinger as well as the venom sac detaches from the body of the bee — the bee dies and the stinger along with the venom sac remain lodged under the skin of the victim. Rarely, the stinger just penetrates the skin but doesn’t remain lodged under it. So, if your dog got stung by a bee, you should check whether the bee stinger is still under the skin of your dog and try to remove it.
So, to determine the risk that a bee sting poses on your dog’s health, you should be able to asses the severity of the reaction: slight itchiness and burning sensation with minimum swelling are indicative of a very mild reaction; apparent swelling around the stinger, redness, pain and constant attempts of the dog to lick or chew the place are signs of a serious reaction and extreme swelling extending away from the sting place, difficulty breathing and fainting point to severe reaction that requires urgent medical help.
My dog ate a bee – how risky is that ?
Puppies and young dogs are absolutely fascinated by bees and other flying insects – every time a fly, bee, butterfly or other insect are around, your dog will surely try to snap at it. These reflexes remain in adult dogs too. That’s why most dogs get stung in the area of their faces or inside the mouth. A bee sting over the face of your dog is rather unpleasant, but a dog that ate a bee is exposed to much more risk.
A bee, entrapped in a dog’s mouth will sting anywhere – on the tongue, gums, palate, etc. If your dog tries to swallow the bee, the sting may be at the very back of the tongue and even down the esophagus (a pipe that connects your dog’s throat with the stomach). Bee stings in these locations present danger even if your dog is not allergic to bee venom because every bee sting is associated with swelling.
Swelling inside the mouth, and especially at the back of the tongue and throat can easily block your dog’s airways and cause breathing problems. If a dog ate a bee and suffered an acute allergic reaction, the swelling will be much more severe and may cause complete airway blockage and suffocation – obviously immediate medical help is required in such cases.
Another common concern among dog owners is whether certain bee species may be venomous and able to poison their dog on ingestion. There are no records for bees that can be poisonous when digested in animals’ or human’s stomach, so if your dog ate a bee, you should not worry about your dog getting poisoned. Any swelling or itching that may appear is likely to be result of the sting (even if it is away from the actual sting point) and not a result of your dog getting poisoned by the insect itself.
What to do if my dog gets stung by a bee ?
As mentioned above, a bee sting presents serious health risk only if your dog is allergic and if your dog got stung by a bee on particular spot of his or hers body. Here are several first aid tips :
1. Be prepared for an allergic reaction.
The greatest danger of bee stings comes from potential allergic reactions. An allergic reaction can be very sudden, acute and lethal for your dog. Monitor your pet very carefully and watch out for any excessive swelling, difficulty breathing, disorientation and weakness – these are the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
It is important to know that these symptoms may not manifest at the same time and not right after your dog got stung by a bee – an anaphylactic shock may occur within 24 hours of the incident. Remember that acute allergic reactions present medical urgency, so if you notice any sign of allergic reaction, take your dog to a vet immediately.
2. Remove the bee stinger.
While watching out for possible allergic reaction, try to remove the stinger. A bee stinger works like a very tiny syringe with a hypodermic needle – some poison is injected into the skin at the moment of the sting; some is left in it the venom sac and slowly released.
So, the stinger that is stuck under your dog’s skin will contain some venom; you should not pump it in your dog’s body while trying to remove the stinger. The best way to dislodge the stinger out is to gently scrape it out using your finger nail, a credit card or a coin – start from a point behind the wound and gently brush the surface of the skin forward.
3. Take care of the swelling.
Even if your pet is not allergic, there will be some swelling around the area of the sting. The best way to alleviate the pain and itchiness is to apply ice over the swollen area. Use an ice pack or ice cubes wrapped in a clean towel and place over the stung place. Keep for as long as your dog can tolerate, changing the ice every 5 minutes.
Clearly, swelling poses huge risk if your dog got stung by a bee in the mouth or throat – it is not only extremely painful but swelling in the mouth and throat can block your dog’s airways and cause suffocation. In such cases, it is best to take your pt to a vet immediately. A vet will give your pet some allergy and pain medications and will be able to locate and safely remove the stinger from your pet’s mouth or throat.
4. Pain control.
Bee stings are always painful and level of pain depends of the severity of the sting and its location. Mild stings may cause only itchiness and burning sensation while serious stings as well as stings on the face and/or inside the mouth may be extremely painful. A good natural pain remedy is a mixture of baking soda and water – soak a cloth with the mix and put it over the wound. Another option is to make a trip to the vet and get special pain control medications.
5. First aid medications.
Bee stings are dangerous because of the allergic response associated with them. That’s why antihistamines (anti-allergy) medications are typically the preferred first aid choice when it comes to dealing with bee stings in dogs. Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is an over the counter antihistamine drug that is well tolerated by dogs.
You can use pills or injections in case your dog got stung by a bee and starts showing allergic reaction. The dose of Benadryl is calculated according to the weight of your pet – normally, you will need to administer 1 mg per 1 pound of body weight. Other antihistamines and steroids may also be used to take care of allergic reactions but it is recommended to call a vet first.
It is essential to take your dog to a vet even if you have given him or her dose of Benadryl. Your pet will need follow up care and only a qualified professional can recommend the appropriate dosage and frequency. Epinephrine (adrenaline) is required in case of anaphylactic shock – if you know you have an allergic dog, always carry an epinephrine pen with you. You can discover more on what you should prepare for in this article on doggy first aid kits.
6. Multiple bee stings.
While a single bee sting is not dangerous (unless your dog is extremely sensitive to bee venom), multiple bee stings present a serious health risk for pets and human alike. Usually, dogs suffer multiple bee stings when they disturb a bee hive accidentally – bees become extremely hostile and always attack in groups when their home is threatened. The best thing to do in such scenario is to administer some antihistamine medication right after the accident and immediately take your pet to the vet.
Larger amounts of bee venom may have severe toxic effect and may threaten vital organs and systems. In such cases, dogs, like humans, need prompt and aggressive treatment that only a qualified vet is able to provide. Additionally, hospitalization and close monitoring for 24 to 48 hours may be necessary to prevent life threatening complications.
What You Need to Know
Bee stings can be a serious event and even life threatening in some cases. Dogs are at greater risk for bee stings than people, as they tend to chase or play with things that move. Dogs are likely to get stung in the mouth or on the nose, face, or feet by several different insects, including bees, wasps, and hornets.
If your dog suffers a bee sting, seek veterinary assistance. If you wait for an allergic reaction to occur you may already be too late; your dog could become very ill very quickly.
Signs of Bee Stings
– Crying out, running in circles, salivating
– Mild signs include: swelling of the area; scratching, rubbing, licking, or chewing at the sting
– Severe signs include: profound swelling of the face, throat, or neck; hives, vomiting; difficulty breathing; collapse
To minimize exposure to bee stings try to help your pet avoid flower beds, a favorite habitat of bees. Bees also may build nests in eaves of houses and in trees. Some hornets and wasps build their nests in the ground, so pay careful attention to where your dog may be digging when he is outside. It is always a good idea monitor your property for nests and have them removed when detected. Bees abound in the spring and summer and “bee proofing” your dog’s environment is big job. It is a good idea to have the phone numbers for your veterinarian and local veterinary emergency clinic on hand in case your dog is stung.