Dog with a bee

Not all dogs are allergic to bees.

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What happens if my dog eats bees?

By Dr Holly Graham BVMedSci BVMBVS MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

Being playful and scavengers, dogs will often come across bees, especially in the warmer months. But are bees a threat to your pet?

Taking your dog out for walks may often lead to them encountering bees, so it's good to know what to do if your pet is stung by one – or even eats a bee.

Read on to find out what bees can do to your animal.

What happens if a dog eats a bee?

There’s a difference between a dog eating a bee and a dog being stung by a bee. If a dog eats a bee they are unlikely to become sick, as bees don’t cause any gastrointestinal upsets and will be digested as with normal food. Bee stings can be dangerous and allergic reactions are possible. It’s possible for bees to sting the inside of your dog’s mouth or throat, but once they’re in the stomach and intestines they won’t cause any damage.

Is it safe for dogs to eat bees?

It’s not recommended to let your dog eat bees – but sometimes this can be unavoidable. Bee stings in the mouth, tongue or throat can cause severe swellings that can make breathing difficult. Wherever possible, stop your dog from eating bees or wasps.

What are the symptoms of a bee sting on a dog?

Symptoms of a bee sting range from mild, local irritation to anaphylactic shock and a life-threatening allergic reaction. Allergic reactions usually happen within 10 minutes of the sting. Mild symptoms include:

● Scratching or chewing at the affected area

● Swelling or redness – the sting may still be stuck in the area and may be visible

● Whining, distress and signs of pain or agitation

● Puffiness in the affected area – this may be around the eyes, face or muzzle

● Drooling

Signs of anaphylaxis or an allergic reaction include:

● Respiratory problems – difficulty breathing or wheezing

● Swelling around the mouth, throat or tongue

● Collapse

● Seizures

● Disorientation, ataxia or dizziness

If you’re worried your dog is showing any signs of anaphylactic shock, seek veterinary attention quickly.

What do I do if my dog is stung by a bee?

If your dog has been stung by a bee, keep a close eye on them for at least 10 minutes, as this is when reactions are most likely to occur. If your dog develops swellings, collapses or seems to be having difficulty breathing, consult a vet immediately. If your dog isn’t showing any signs of reaction, you can try to remove the stinger and gently bathe the area with water. Consult a vet, if you have any concerns following a bee sting.

What can you give your dog for a bee sting?

If your dog has been stung be a bee but isn’t suffering from a bad reaction, you can attempt to manage this at home. If the stinger is still stuck in your dog, try to remove this by scraping something over the top of it. You can gently bathe the area with water and apply an ice pack to reduce any swelling. If your dog is showing any signs of a reaction, take them to the vets for a check-up. Don’t attempt to give any treatment (including antihistamines) at home before consulting a vet. The treatment your vet prescribes will depend on how severe the reaction is – mild reactions may require topical creams or tablets to reduce the inflammation, or sometimes antihistamines.

If your dog is showing signs of anaphylactic shock, they must be treated immediately by a vet. Do not attempt treatment at home. Dogs with severe allergic reactions may require epinephrine to regulate the heart rate and blood pressure, and many require corticosteroid injections. Intravenous fluids may also be required.

How long does it take for a dog to recover from a bee sting?

Dogs with mild reactions to bee stings are usually fine and are back to normal very quickly. It can take a little while for swelling to reduce, but once treatment is given they are expected to make a full recovery. Animals suffering from anaphylactic shock may require hospitalisation and need close monitoring for at least a few days.

Can a dog die from getting stung by a bee?

It is possible for bee stings to be fatal. While most dogs only show mild signs or irritation or swelling, bee stings around the mouth or throat can cause the airways to swell significantly and block your dog's airway. Like humans, dogs can be allergic to bee stings and go into anaphylactic shock. Animals showing signs of allergic reaction must be treated immediately or they may die. If a dog is stung multiple times, lots of venom can be injected into your dog and this can cause severe problems and even death.

Are all dogs allergic to bees?

Not all dogs are allergic to bees. Lots of dogs will show only mild symptoms and won’t need veterinary treatment. Allergic reactions are less common, but can be life-threatening and require treatment by a vet as soon as possible.

Do bees die after they sting?

Only certain types of bee die when they sting. Honey bees leave behind their stinger and part of their abdomen following stinging a human or a dog, and die. This means they are unable to sting again. Other types of bees, including bumble bees, are able to remove their stinger without damaging their bodies. Wasps and hornets can sting multiple times and do not die.

How long does it take for an allergic reaction from a bee sting to appear?

Most allergic reactions happen within 10 minutes of the sting, but can happen up to a few hours afterwards. It’s important to keep a close eye on your dog following the sting. Initial anaphylactic reactions happen less than 10 minutes after a sting, but a second reaction is possible anytime in the next 72 hours, so it may be that the vet hospitalises your pet for a few days, if a severe reaction has occurred.

When should I see a vet?

Visit a vet if your pet is showing any signs of an allergic reaction. Swelling, respiratory distress, collapse or seizures should all be counted as signs of an emergency. Your dog may need to visit a vet if mild symptoms do not resolve with bathing and ice packing.

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