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Bee and wasp stings: What should I do if my dog has been stung?

Has a bee or a wasp ever stung your dog? Most importantly, would you know what to do if the situation occurred?

Bee and wasp stings are most common during early Spring to late Autumn. Dogs often get stung on their paws or around their face, resulting in pain, irritation, and swelling. In such cases, you can handle the insect stings at home. However, for more severe bee and wasp stings, like inside your dog's mouth or throat, multiple stings, or any allergic reactions, immediate veterinary treatment could be needed.

If you are wondering what to do if your dog is stung, then you have come to the right place. Within this article, we will provide you with the signs and symptoms of bee and wasp stings, and how they need to be treated.

dog amongst flowers
Jada Briede via Unsplash

What are the symptoms of bee and wasp stings on a dog?

With bee stings, the stinger is left behind and continues to release toxins that can cause pain, irritation, and discomfort. Just like us humans, each dog may react differently to the toxins. Some dogs may just experience swelling and discomfort from bee and wasp stings. Whereas others could have a stronger reaction to their sting and need professional treatment.

The most common symptoms for bee and wasp stings to look out for are:

  • Swelling

  • Hives (red, swollen, itchy looking skin)

  • Limping and holding up affected paw

  • Chewing or biting at sting affected area.

  • Whining and panting

  • Drooling

  • Pawing at face or mouth

If your dog’s reaction to the sting is more serious, they may be showing signs of drowsiness, disorientation or collapsing, pale gums, seizures, vomiting, wheezing, or difficulty breathing. If you spot any of these symptoms to bee and wasp stings, go immediately to your vet or nearest animal hospital.

dog laying by flowers
Engin Akyurt via Pexels

What should I do after my dog has been stung by a bee or a wasp?

If you think your dog has been stung by a bee or a wasp, remain calm. Try to scrape out the sting using a stiff material (such as a credit card) rather than squeezing or pulling as this can cause the venom to excrete more into the wound. After removing the stinger, bathe the infected area in water and apply ice within a tea towel to help soothe the pain. You can also reduce the swelling by applying a cold damp cloth to the wound.

Following this, the most important thing to do is to keep monitoring them for any concerning signs listed above. Symptoms will usually take place 30-60 minutes after the sting. Sometimes, reactions to bee and wasp stings can occur hours later, so it's essential to keep a close watch on your dog throughout the day.

To prevent your dog from scratching and chewing the affected area, you might want to consider putting doggy socks on their paws. Scratching and chewing can delay the healing process of bee and wasp stings and may lead to further infection.

When should I contact my vet?

If the sting is around your dog’s face or mouth, or they are showing signs of an allergic or serious reaction, contact your vet as soon as possible!

Only give your dog treatments such as antihistamines if you vet has told you it’s okay to do so. If you think that your dog swallowed the bee or wasp, make sure to let your vet know. They may need to examine your dog or ask you to keep a close eye on your furry friend for the next 10-12 hours.

If no reactions to bee and wasp stings occur over the next few hours, there should be nothing to worry about. Your poor pooch may experience some pain, but this should subside within a short period of time. Just make sure to give them lots of comforting kisses and cuddles!

Bee and Wasp stings dealt with at the vet
Google Creative Commons

How can I protect my dog from bee and wasp stings?

Your dog is more likely to be stung during the spring and summer months as this is when bees and wasps are rife. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take your dog outside and allow them to explore. Here are a few ways you can protect your furry best friend from the rath of a bee or wasp sting:

  • Keep your dog away from beehives: While the sweet-smelling hive may seem wonderful to your dog, the bee will be less impressed with his or her curiosity!

  • Avoid areas with lots of flowers: We all know that bees and wasps are drawn to flowers, so it’s best to keep your dog away.

  • Keep your pooch on the lead: When you are out for a walk with your beloved fur pal, it’s best to keep them on their lead to reduce the risk of them stumbling into a bee colony.

  • Opt for light coloured clothing: Did you know bees see darker colours as a threat? It’s true. So, consider dressing yourself and your dog in lighter colours when out on walks.

  • Walk during the early morning and evening: Bees and wasps are less active early morning and after dark, so this would be the best time to walk your dog. During the summer months, it’s cooler around this time too so it’s better for your pooch overall.

  • Use canine bug spray: It’s not safe to use human bug spray on a dog, but you can purchase bug sprays that are specially formulated for dogs to keep the stinging bugs away!

  • Vinegar diluted with water: Did you know vinegar diluted with water can be used as a repellent against bee and wasp stings? Simply use one cup of white distilled vinegar and eight litres of water. Bees and wasp hate the sour aroma this creates… but it still leaves your dog smelling good!

Now that you know how to prevent your fur baby from being stung, you can BEE more careful out there! (Sorry, we couldn't resist.)

bee on flower
Gary Yost via Unsplash

Dog products to help with bee and wasp stings from WOOOF

If you believe your dog has been stung by an insect and is feeling very itchy, you can try our non-stinging Dog Itch Relief Spray by Dogslife. It's professionally formulated with a blend of natural ingredients to relieve itching and promote the healing of your dog's irritated skin.

Alternatively, the First Aid Kit for Pets contains multiple useful products for minor dog injuries.

When in doubt, always contact your vet to ask for advice. They will be able to tell you if your dog’s symptoms require a vet visit and treatment. Usually, your dog will be able to recover from any bee and wasp stings from home. Simply keep an eye out for any of the symptoms mentioned in this article and make sure to keep your beloved four-legged friend as comfortable as possible.

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