Dogs and Bees and Wasps
When our pup Sally was just about 3 months old, she had a run-in with a bee. It was a Saturday morning and I was out somewhere and Steve was at home. I get a frantic call saying that Sally’s face is all swollen and he is on the way to the vet. By the time I got there, her face was almost normal, she was fine and they were wrapping it up. That’s really the only time any of our dogs have reacted to a bee sting, probably not the only time they’ve been stung, but the only reaction.
Tino used to eat bees – he’d just snap at them and they’d be gone. I don’t know if they are able to sting the inside of a stomach after being swallowed? I’ve never seen Jack or Maggie pay them any attention.
Anyways, just as with humans, bee (or wasp) stings can be dangerous if your dog has any kind of allergy or if they get stung multiple times. They will usually get stung on the face, so proximity to eyes and mouth can present a problem and a sting to the nose can be particularly painful.
A bee stinger is barbed and dislodges into the skin, but one wasp can sting over and over again. It’s not the stinger, but rather the poison released that causes the reaction.
- Danger signs to watch for if your dog has been bit:
- Swelling beyond the sting site
- Constant itching or hives
- Trouble breathing
- General weakness
If your dog exhibits any of those signs, it’s worth a trip to the vet for treatment. Your vet will remove the stingers and provide medication to ease the swelling and discomfort.
Be aware that dogs may suffer from anaphylactic shock which can kill a dog within ten minutes. The symptoms of anaphylactic shock include fainting, rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, weakness, and trembling. Get your dog to the vet immediately if they display any of these signs.
If it is not a severe sting, you can treat the bite at home:
- Remove the stinger by carefully scraping it out of their skin – use your fingernail or credit card and be careful not to break it off as that may release more venom into the bite.
- Bathe the area with warm water mixed with baking soda and leave a little paste on the site to help reduce the pain.
- Apply ice to the swelling (if your pup allows).
- Administer a dose of Benadryl (see below for dosing information).
The amount of Benadryl you should give your dog is directly proportional to the dog’s weight; give him 1mg of Benadryl per pound of body weight three times a day until he gets better. If he weighs 25 pounds then one tablet will do as each dose is 25mg. If you do not know the weight of your dog, then you should measure it before you start it on the treatment. BENADRYL Website
The best cure for bee stings is prevention, so take a look at your garden and see if there are any changes you want to make to your plantings. Teaching a dog to avoid certain plants may help. Wasps may build their nests in the ground, so it’s always good to investigate if your dog is digging. Keep your vet’s phone number handy just in case.