Ask Doctor Dog: Help! My Dog Stepped on a Bee
Running into wildlife is a given when the great outdoors is your bathroom. When you're a curious pup that explores the yard with a "chew first, ask questions later," approach, you might find out that some of the great outdoors bite back.
Bee stings are common injuries in dogs, so how big of a deal are they, really? Doctor Dog breaks down what to do if your dog gets stung.
You can ask me any questions whenever you want. Then look for my responses in my Dear Doctor Dog advice column on Always Pets.
The Question: Are Bee Stings a Big Deal?
Dear Doctor Dog,
My family just brought home a new labradoodle puppy who's curious about everything. For now, he has full run of our enclosed backyard, but I'm worried about what happens in spring. We have a large garden, and when the flowers begin to bloom, there's a big uptick in bees.
It seems like getting stung would be easy, but I'm not sure how seriously to take it if it happens. Does that warrant a vet visit, or can we handle it at home? Thanks in advance.
– Alan Young, Cannon Beach, Oregon
Doctor Dog's Answer: Bee Stings Are Not a Big Deal, With One Big Exception
Glad to see you're planning ahead and looking out for your new puppy. If I didn't already have a happy home, I'd ask for you to adopt me too. See, I happen to be allergic to bees. For most dogs, a bee sting isn't a big deal. (We'll get into the exact steps to take if your dog gets stung later.)
Usually, dogs get stung by bees, wasps or ants on their paws or around their nose or mouth. Most of the time, dogs react to insect stings in a similar way to people. There's an initial sharp, burning pain followed by slight swelling, redness and itching that can last a few days. If this is how your dog reacts, managing their symptoms at home is just fine.
If your dog exhibits signs of an allergic reaction, however, get them to an emergency vet ASAP. Signs of an allergic reaction include:
- Severe itching
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Facial swelling
- Pale gums
- Difficulty breathing
- Convulsions, weakness or collapse
If your dog experiences any of the above symptoms after a romp in the yard, call your vet immediately for advice. Allergic reactions to bee stings are rare, however. An uptick in bees outside is no reason to avoid play time. I'll outline what to keep in a dog first aid kit so you can prepare in advance, just in case.
Wishing you and your pup a bee-free game of fetch.
– Doctor Dog
More Infurmation About Canine Bee Stings
The picture above is deceiving, because most dogs won't need a bandage for a simple bee sting. It's helpful to have bandages on hand in case your dog won't stop biting at the injury. A pet first aid kit like this one is a worthwhile purchase.
In your dog first aid kit, you should also keep a card with the phone number of your dog's usual vet, plus an emergency vet in your area for off-hours help. If your dog does get stung, take the following steps:
- Check for a stinger. Most insects don't leave a stinger behind, but bees do. Bee stingers continue releasing venom for a few minutes after a sting. If you're able to spot the site of bug bite or sting, check for a stinger. If you see one, use your nail or a credit card to gently flick it away. Avoid using tweezers, as this may squeeze more venom into the wound.
- Look for signs of an allergic reaction. Is your dog behaving differently than usual? If they seem weak, short of breath, or have significant swelling of the face or throat, contact your vet immediately. If not, proceed with home care steps.
- Apply a paste of baking soda and water to the sting site. This will reduce discomfort and minimize itching.
- Apply ice to the area for 10 minutes to reduce swelling.
- If your vet recommends it, give your pet an oral anti-histamine. Benadryl can be used, or this similar version for pets, but double check with your vet to confirm the correct dosage.
That's it. Your dog will probably have forgotten all about it in a couple of day. For more tips on dealing with bee stings in dogs, check out the video below.
Have a Question for Doctor Dog?
Leave any questions for me, and look for my responses in my Dear Doctor Dog advice column on Always Pets. Have questions about cats, bunnies, hamsters or any other critters? Shoot! I may be a dog myself, but I'm here to help all your animal companions, whether they have four legs or fins.
Important reminder: Doctor Dog is happy to provide general pet care guidance, but she cannot provide formal medical recommendations or diagnoses for your pet. Your pet's veterinarian should always be your primary resource for serious questions regarding your pet's health.