Snapping at any moving object is in a dog's nature; therefore, it's no surprise your dog may attempt to eat a bee when one flies by. Dogs gleefully bite at bees without understanding the consequences, some that can be dire. If your dog ate a bee, act quickly and take necessary measures to ensure quick recovery.
What Happens When a Dog Eats a Bee?
Fortunately, ingesting a bee alone is not harmful to your dog. Bees release venom when they sting, yet they themselves are not poisonous. So, if your dog simply snatched up and swallowed a bee, it's likely they will be just fine.
The real concern, however, is the possibility of the bee stinging your dog during the process. If your dog was stung in the lips, tongue, or throat while eating the bee, they could experience dangerous consequences. Even dogs that are not allergic to bees can suffer from life-threatening swelling if they are stung in the tongue or throat. For this reason, it's essential to take immediate action any time your dog eats a bee.
What to Do if Your Dog Is Stung by a Bee in the Mouth
Similar to humans, some dogs experience life-threatening allergic reactions to bees, whereas others may only have mild signs. Even if your dog is not allergic, however, a sting in the throat can lead to dangerous swelling that may obstruct their airway. Follow this stepwise guide to ensure the best outcome for your pet.
Locate and Remove the Stinger
If your dog ate a bee, there's a possibility that they may have been stung in the mouth during the event. First, attempt to remove any embedded stingers to prevent the continued release of venom. Briefly examine your dog's face, lips, gums, and tongue. If you do locate a stinger, gently scrape it with your nail or a rigid piece of plastic to remove it from the skin or tissue.
If you're unable to find one after a few minutes, it may have become dislodged on its own, or your dog may have ingested it. It's fine to move on at this point. However, if your pet appears to have difficulty breathing or experiences sudden weakness during your examination, stop and immediately bring them to the nearest veterinarian.
Evaluate for Concerning Signs
Next, assess your dog for any signs of an allergic reaction. These symptoms typically occur within the first 30 to 60 minutes following a bee sting. If you notice any of the following signs of a severe reaction, seek immediate care from a veterinarian:
- Difficulty breathing - This could indicate that your dog was stung in the throat, causing swelling and potential obstruction of the airway, or could be a result of a severe allergy to the bee venom.
- Excessive drooling - Drooling could indicate obstruction of the airway, which is a medical emergency.
- Facial or generalized swelling - A very common yet concerning sign associated with allergic reactions is swelling of the lips, face, and neck.
- Weakness/difficulty walking - Generalized weakness or loss of balance when standing or walking are signs of a severe reaction.
- Pale mucous membranes - A healthy dog should have pink, moist gums. If your dog's gums are pale, they could be in anaphylactic shock.
- Sudden vomiting or diarrhea - Another sign of anaphylaxis is the sudden onset of gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
- Diffuse hives - Though a cause for concern, it can be challenging to see hives on a dog. Dogs with short hair often exhibit raised patches, whereas you may need to look directly at the skin under the coat of dogs with long fur.
Monitor for Mild Symptoms
Some reactions to bee stings can be mild and are not necessarily life-threatening. These mild reaction symptoms include localized redness, sensitivity, or discomfort at the site of the sting.
Oral antihistamine medication can often help if your dog experiences a mild reaction. Diphenhydramine, most well-known by the brand name Benadryl, is the antihistamine most veterinary professionals use for insect bites such as bee stings. Always confirm with your vet that it is safe for your dog to receive Benadryl before administering it at home, then give the appropriate dose based on their weight. Also, confirm that Diphenhydramine is the only active ingredient in the medication you are giving your dog, as other active ingredients and additives may be harmful to dogs.
When to Seek Professional Care
If your dog experiences any of the severe symptoms described above, seek immediate veterinary care.
Additionally, if your dog appears to be "off" or is exhibiting unusual signs or behaviors, it may be beneficial to have them examined by a veterinarian. You know your dog best -- if they do not seem to be themselves, there may be a cause for concern.
A quick trip to the vet can provide you with peace of mind if your pet recovered well from the bee sting or could potentially uncover other ailments triggered by the venom. Unfortunately, reactions caused by toxins like the venom from bees can cause conditions such as secondary IMHA or even kidney damage. These adverse effects are very rare but can happen.
If you're unable to reach a veterinarian, consider calling the Pet Poison Helpline to speak directly with a veterinary professional for further advice.
Ensure a Swift Recovery With Attentive Support
It can be tricky to discern whether your dog was stung or simply swallowed a bee. If they ingested the bee, the bee would quickly be digested and likely cause no harm. On the other hand, a bee sting -- especially to the tongue or throat -- can cause a life-threatening reaction. The best course of action is to carefully assess your dog's condition and seek medical attention if needed.