Considering that dogs enjoy playing with anything flying past them, you'll likely be forced to address a bee sting at some point in your pet's life. Unfortunately, a bee sting is not only uncomfortable for your canine companion, but can potentially cause an allergic reaction. However, there are prompt steps you can take at home if your dog is stung by a bee. By following this stepwise guide, your pup can be well on the road to a comfortable and safe recovery.
Dog Stung by a Bee? Here's What to Do
In most cases, you'll be at home in the yard or at a park when your dog sustains a bee sting. Be sure to move away from any area containing bees and find a space with adequate light before beginning this seven-step strategy to address a dog bee sting.
1. Find the Stinger and Remove It
Bees abandon their stinger after they sting a creature, and it typically remains in the wound. Your dog will probably paw at the area of the sting, attempting to remove the stinger themselves, which can give you a good idea of the general location. The face is a common area for bee stings in dogs but be sure to explore other areas as well.
Once you've located the stinger, gently remove it. Avoid pinching it with tweezers, as this can release more venom into your pet. Instead, scrape the area with a rigid piece of plastic, such as a credit card, until the stinger becomes dislodged.
2. Watch for Allergic Reaction
Assess your dog for any signs of allergic reaction. Following stinger removal, it's important to pause and assess your dog's overall condition. Watch their chest rise and fall to confirm they aren't having difficulty breathing, check their gum color and verify it's a healthy pink shade, evaluate their face to confirm it is not swollen, make sure their skin is free of bumpy hives, and finally, ask them to stand and walk to ensure they're not weak or ataxic (lacking coordination or balance).
Although rare, if you note any of these concerning signs, your dog could be experiencing an anaphylactic reaction and require immediate care from a veterinarian.
3. Treat With a DIY Solution
Next, cleanse the stung area with water to remove any remaining stinger venom. You can apply a homemade remedy to help reduce swelling and pain. Simply make a paste using baking soda and water, then apply it to the skin surrounding the bee sting.
Prevent your dog from licking the paste mixture from the area -- if they ingest too much baking soda, it can be toxic -- by distracting them or using an Elizabethan collar (the dreaded cone collar) or an inflatable collar to physical deny them access to the site of the sting. Avoid applying a baking soda solution to a spot on your dog's face that they can easily lick, and instead use a cold compress in these areas. Also, do not apply the mixture anywhere near your dog's eyes, or where it might run into your dog's eyes. You can reapply the mixture every 15 minutes until any redness or swelling subsides.
4. Apply a Cold Compress
An ice pack or towel soaked in cool water and applied to the bee sting area can also help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. If you use an ice pack, be sure to wrap it in a cloth so it's not in direct contact with your pup's skin. Hold it against the area for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
5. Consider an Oral Antihistamine
Oral antihistamine medication can help reduce any mild symptoms from the sting. The antihistamine of choice in most dog bee sting cases is diphenhydramine, best known by the brand name Benadryl.
Always check with your veterinarian to ensure it's safe for your dog to receive Benadryl before giving it, and be sure to find a formula that contains only diphenhydramine, as other common active ingredients and additives can be toxic to pets. The standard diphenhydramine dose for dogs is around 1 mg for every 1 pound of body weight. For example, you would give half of a 25 mg Benadryl tablet to a 13-pound dog or two 25 mg Benadryl tablets to a 50-pound dog. You can repeat the appropriate dose every 8 to 12 hours (or two to three times daily).
6. Continue Monitoring
Keep a watchful eye on your pup for the next few days. Any initial mild symptoms should resolve over that time. However, if you notice persistent swelling in the area of the bee sting or unresolved discomfort, let your vet know. They may have additional recommendations or wish to examine your pet.
When to Seek Urgent Veterinary Care
Just as with people, some dogs can be severely allergic to bees and experience an anaphylactic reaction. If that's the case, seek immediate medical attention from your local veterinarian.
The following symptoms are indications your dog needs urgent support:
- Difficulty breathing
- Immediate vomiting or diarrhea
- Sudden excessive drooling
- Pale mucous membranes
- Facial swelling
- Loss of consciousness
- Multiple bee stings at once
If you cannot get to your veterinary hospital right away, consider calling the Pet Poison Helpline to speak directly to a veterinary professional.
Approach a Dog Bee Sting With Confidence
Although prevention is always the best plan of action, it can be challenging to avoid bees altogether. If you discover that your dog was stung by a bee, there's no need to panic. Your ability to confidently address the situation with the appropriate steps will ensure your dog has the best chance at recovery.