The Sting: A Bee’s Defense Mechanism
Dogs are curious. They tend to investigate the world around them by sniffing, licking and pawing. As soon as something in their surroundings starts moving, they need to stick their nose in it — literally.
Bees being busy pollinators will probably consider this encounter highly harmful and defend themselves by stinging. One sting in your dogs’ mouth isn’t something to worry about — if your dog doesn’t have an allergic reaction.
There will be some crying, whimpering and swelling to deal with. Nothing you can’t handle with a word of advice and prescription from your veterinarian. If your dog starts showing more severe signs, especially breathing difficulties, immediate veterinary assistance is necessary.
It’s the Sting That’s Dangerous
Eating a bee won’t do your dog any harm. The dog will digest the insect without a problem. It’s what happens before your dog swallows the bee that can cause serious issues.
Bees are venomous — we don’t get affected by touching or eating them, but by being injected with venom when a bee stings us.
While people don’t tend to swallow bees by mistake very often, this is not the case with our four-legged companions. Dogs can get stung on their tongue or throat. Swelling and a blockage in the airways is possible. For the short-nose and flat-face small-breed dogs, this is particularly serious.
If your dog is stung inside its mouth or throat, it’s recommended to seek veterinary help straight away.
What to Do If Your Dog Is Stung by a Bee
To avoid a life-threatening situation, it’s necessary to pay close attention to your dog’s appearance and behavior right after it swallows the bee. Any reaction will become apparent within a few minutes.
In a mild case, signs of swelling around the infected area are possible. Your dog could also try to lick or chew the pain away — bee stings are very painful to dogs.
To help — try to use both a calming voice and movements. Check for swelling, inspect your dog’s head and face as well as the inside of its mouth thoroughly. In the case of multiple stings — swelling will appear rapidly.
If you notice a stinger, try to remove it without burying it deeper — injecting even more venom into the wound. If possible, use a card-like object to scrape the stinger out of the skin gently — avoid pulling or squeezing it. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, leave it for the vet to attempt, as not to worsen the situation.
If you don’t see any other signs of allergic reaction and your dog is breathing normally, consult your vet on which medication to use. Continue with monitoring and comforting your furry friend.
Don’t underestimate the effect of the venom. The threat of an allergic reaction is still possible hours after the sting.
How to Recognize Anaphylactic Shock
Some dogs might develop a strong allergic reaction to a bee sting. It’s known as anaphylactic shock (anaphylaxis). Identifying its symptoms might help you save your dog’s life. If you notice any of these signs immediately after your dog is stung, go directly to the emergency vet.
- Heavy breathing
- Drooling, vomiting or diarrhea
- Defecation or urination
- Hives in the face and neck area
If you weren’t present when the sting occurred, your dog could already be in the second stage when you find them. These include:
- Lethargy and weakness
- Pale gums
- Erratic heart rate
- Severe labored breathing
- Weak pulse
- Cold limbs
- State of shock or even coma
These symptoms may progress very rapidly, and without medical help, your dog’s life could be seriously threatened.
Most often, epinephrine (adrenalin) will be administered. Additional treatment with antihistamines, corticosteroids, and bronchodilators will follow only if needed. In the case of acute respiratory issues, the veterinarian may decide to secure your dog’s airway by using a special tube to help the dog breathe.
How to Reduce The Risk of a Bee Sting
You can never keep your dog 100 percent safe — bees buzz everywhere. There are, however, ways of reducing the risk.
Avoid areas where bees gather. Some bees, such as bumblebees, nest underground and carpenter bees favor areas with felled trees. Nesting wild honey bees are more common in and around the treetops.
Keeping your dog on a lead is another option. You can find leads long enough to allow them their freedom to sniff around and still be in full control if you sense trouble ahead.
First Aid Kit for Your Dog
First, consult your vet on emergency treatments for allergic reactions — especially if your dog is allergic to bee stings.
One option experts suggest is an auto-injector — your vet can prescribe and give you detailed instructions on the right dosage for your dog.
Another is an antihistamine medication with only diphenhydramine as an active ingredient. This medication is available in liquid form or pills. Consult your vet to determine the dosage.
Both of these options can be excellent first aid, although don’t hesitate to seek veterinary help in case of a severe allergic reaction.
Treat Bee Stings With Natural Remedies
The easiest way to help your dog is with a cold compress. Get an ice pack and wrap it in soft fabric. Place it over the affected area gently, not to cause your dog more pain. Keep repeating this for at least an hour.
Apply apple cider vinegar to a bandage or cotton wool and cover the sore area with it. This sort of vinegar helps to neutralize the bee venom due to its acidity. Change it regularly, but be careful not to get the bandage too close to your dog’s eyes.
If it’s easier for you to use a cream, mix three parts of baking soda to one part of water and make a paste. Smear it over the swelling every two hours throughout the day and take care that your dog doesn’t lick it off.
If you have the plant at home, cut one leaf and use the freshly squeezed gel. Apply it to the swelling the same way as baking soda cream. If using a product, ensure to use only pure aloe gel without any other ingredients.
Honey is often used to help our pets with superficial injuries — dab some onto the sore area. It reduces itching and pain and speeds up the healing process of the skin. Once applied, cover it with a bandage and let it work for an hour.
Whether your dog is allergic or not — if it gets stung by a bee, keep your composure. You must concentrate on locating the affected area and monitor your dog for any signs of a reaction.
If there are breathing issues, your dog will benefit most if you approach them calmly and take them to the vet in the least stressful manner possible. Your most important role is to comfort your dog while the experts do their job and treat them.