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dog stung by bee

The essentials

  • Not all bee stings require a vet visit — In most cases, the minor swelling and pain from a sting can be treated at home with an ice pack and monitoring.
  • Monitor your pup closely if they get stung around their nose or mouth — This is especially true if your dog swallows a bee. Excessive swelling or vomiting will require a vet visit. 
  • In some cases, dogs can go into anaphylaxis after a bee sting — If this is your dog’s first time being stung and you notice severe reactions, or if they were stung multiple times, it’s vital to get them to an emergency vet for treatment.

If your pup enjoys a good romp in the grass and flowers or tends to chase after bugs, their chances of experiencing a bee sting at some point are likely. Thankfully, most bee stings are harmless and should heal in a few days.

If you’ve never been through a bee sting with your dog, there are some common signs to look for.

Signs and symptoms of a bee sting in dogs

Common symptoms

These tell-tale symptoms are considered minor and don’t usually require emergency care. For such reactions, you can usually help alleviate the discomfort of insect stings on your dog at home.

  • Slight swelling
  • Minor scratching and itching
  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • Excessive licking of the stung area

If the sting happens inside or around their mouth, they may also experience head shaking, licking their lips, drooling, or wheezing.

Critical signs

More severe reactions, usually relating to an allergic reaction, include:

  • Collapsing or excessive weakness
  • Having a seizure or fit
  • Widespread swelling/swelling on the face
  • Excessive drooling
  • Rapid or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

What to do if your dog has been stung by a bee

If you think or know that your dog was stung by a bee, first and foremost you should keep a close eye on them. Symptoms usually appear 30-60 minutes after the initial sting, but in rare instances, they can begin many hours after.

You might witness some swelling and redness around the sting which is normal. If you start to notice more symptoms or the severity of symptoms is increasing, it’s time to make a trip to the vet. Your pup might need antihistamines, anti-nausea medication, or steroids to treat the reaction.

What if my dog was stung around their head, mouth, or nose?

Stings close to your pup’s airway can be scary, so it’s important to monitor them closely for any changes in breathing or behavior in general. Slight swelling and heat are normal, but if the swelling increases dramatically or they start wheezing, drooling, or coughing repeatedly, get them to the vet right away.

If your dog swallowed the bee, the most important thing to do is monitor for vomiting. Your pup’s GI tract should do a good job of eliminating the bee toxins, but too much vomiting can lead to dehydration and a slew of other side effects. If they vomit repeatedly, your vet can prescribe anti-nausea meds to help.

Anaphylactic reaction from a bee sting in dogs

If you start seeing more serious symptoms appearing after your dog was stung, there’s a possibility of them going into anaphylactic shock. This is extremely dangerous and can be life-threatening if not properly treated right away.

Signs that your dog is having an anaphylactic reaction include:

  • Excessive diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Pale gums
  • Seizures
  • Cold extremities
  • Unresponsiveness

🚨 If you believe your dog is having an allergic reaction, get them to an emergency vet immediately for treatment.

How to care for a dog’s bee sting at home

Not all bee stings require a vet visit. Here are some ways to help with a bee sting at home:

  1. Use something like a credit card or your nail (if sharp enough) to scrape against the stinger in order to remove it. 👉 Avoid using tweezers to pull it out! These can actually squeeze more venom from the stinger into your dog.
  2. Create a paste out of baking soda and water and apply some to the area of the sting.
  3. You can apply an ice pack to help with minor swelling and pain.
  4. Ask your vet about giving your dog an antihistamine.
  5. Try to prevent your pup from scratching or chewing at the area. An e-collar (a.k.a. the cone of shame) can help in this situation.

Should I give my dog over-the-counter antihistamines?

While we highly recommend taking your dog to the vet for treatment, if your vet recommends giving your dog an antihistamine at home (such as Benadryl), make sure it’s true Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and not Benadryl-D. Benadryll-D contains a decongestant that’s toxic to some dogs.

OTC antihistamines can also be used to help buy your dog more time if they’re having a severe reaction as you head to the emergency vet.

When to go to the emergency vet

If your dog shows signs of a severe allergic reaction or an airway blockage after a bee sting, it’s critical to get medical care immediately. If you know your pup has had a bad reaction previously, even if they appear fine initially, get them to your vet quickly to prevent more severe side effects.

Also, if you know your pup has been stung more than once, the vet should have a look at them because of the higher level of venom from multiple stingers. More venom can lead to more serious reactions.