Bichon dog in flowers with bee on top

In most cases a bee sting will cause short-lived irritation.

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My dog was stung by a bee

By Dr. Laura Waring BVetMed MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

If your dog is stung by a bee, there are plenty of ways to help your poor pet. Just remember not to panic.

Dogs are naturally curious and will often investigate flying wasps and bees, sometimes snapping at them as they fly by. This can lead to them getting stung, commonly on the paw or around their face. Most bee stings will be irritating to your dog but won’t cause a serious problem. Yet some dogs may have an allergic reaction, and if the sting affects the mouth or throat, swelling can cause difficulty breathing.

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

Don't panic. If your dog is stung by a bee, try to pull out or scrape the sting out of the paw or skin with something like a credit card. Avoid squeezing the sting, as this can force more venom into your dog's body. Sometimes is might not be possible to find the stinger. Don't worry if this is the case, as it might have already fallen out. It can be hard to find a stinger in thick fur. Washing the area with water will be soothing, and it is worth using bicarbonate of soda to neutralise the sting (as it is acidic). Applying ice to the area for about 10 minutes after the sting is removed can be soothing and help to reduce swelling – do this even if you cannot locate the stinger. If your pet has been stung on the mouth or throat, contact your vet immediately as swelling could cause difficulty breathing.

Some dogs may be allergic to bee stings, or may have a reaction if they have multiple stings. Signs that your dog may be having an allergic reaction include becoming suddenly weak or lethargic, seeming to have trouble breathing, swelling of the face, persistent vomiting and collapsing. If your pet is showing any of these signs seek urgent veterinary assistance.

Likewise if your pet has received multiple stings. This can be much more serious and make your pet very unwell. In this case, seek urgent veterinary care for your dog.

How long does a bee sting last on a dog?

In most cases the irritation from a bee sting won’t persist for longer than a day. If your dog is going to experience severe symptoms as a result of a bee sting, these are usually evident within half an hour.

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

The first sign of a bee sting may be your dog yelping and whining or rubbing or chewing the affected area. If it is the paw that has been stung, the dog may be limping. There might be some redness, itching and swelling at the site of the sting. For the majority of dogs this will be the main effects of a bee sting – irritation and short-lived discomfort. If your dog is more severely affected, more serious symptoms could include swelling of the face or around the eyes, or difficulty breathing, if the sting affects the mouth or throat. Some dogs may experience an allergic reaction, but this is much less common.  

Can a dog die from a bee sting?

In most cases a bee sting will cause short-lived irritation and discomfort for your dog. Having said that, a small number of dogs can suffer from a severe anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting. If a dog has multiple bee stings, it is possible that this could be fatal in some cases. But with prompt veterinary attention most dogs can be treated successfully, ensuring the allergic reaction does not progress.

What happens when a dog is stung by a bee?

The bee injects a ‘stinger’ into the dog's skin. This has two barbs and contains a venom sac. The venom is what causes the pain and irritation for the dog. The venom causes local tissue reaction and inflammation, which may cause the dog to rub or bite at the affected area.

Can I give my dog Benadryl for a bee sting?

Some antihistamine medication may be suitable for your dog, Yet some are toxic, so please do not medicate your pet. If you are concerned about your dog's symptoms after it has been stung, contact a vet for advice.

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