People are generally concerned about themselves when it comes to bee stings. After caring for themselves, they then care about their dogs. They always want to know what happens to their dogs and how the dogs react to bee stings. Bees can kill humans, so why not dogs?
Can bees hurt or kill dogs? Yes, bees can hurt and even kill dogs. How bees hurt dogs and what makes them attack and kill dogs will be addressed in this article. If you are interested in knowing how dangerous bees are, and the extent to which bees can go, then this article has the answer.
We plant bee-friendly gardens which are abundant in nectar-filled blossoms to attract bees because they are really helpful to the environment. However, to dogs, bees are not helpful. Instead they are dangerous. Bees would never think twice before they sting any pet or other animal that tries to interfere with their business. Any paw or animal that disturbs their crucial pollination period would be a candidate for being stung.
The pain that comes with the sting is the least of worries for some dogs. Bee stings can also lead to severe, life-threatening allergic reactions that can later lead into shock and even death. Here are the necessary things you need to know when a bee stings your pet.
What to do when a Bee stings your pet
Usually, curious dogs often get stung more on the face and in their mouth, which would result in the dogs yelping and trying to paw at the areas that were stung. There are other signs that your dog just got stung, and they would appear based on the range of the sting, whether it is from mild to severe, depending on the location of the sting, a number of stings, and also if your dog has an allergy to the bee venom. Also see this post for more information on What bees are venomous?
Dogs that are lucky, would just get by with an ordinary reaction: redness, mild swelling, heat and potentially itching at the sting site. This usually goes away on its own within a day or so.
Signs of a potentially serious reaction usually develop within 10 to 30 minutes of the sting and include swelling of the eyes and face, which can lead to difficulty breathing. Other signs include drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness and collapsing.
Serious signs can develop quickly, so it’s important to watch your dog and be prepared to seek veterinary care immediately. In rare instances, these signs may occur 12 to 14 hours after the sting.
Bees, Wasps, Hornets and Yellow Jackets
Are all strings the same? Not exactly. Bees have a barbed stinger that detaches from the bee and remains in the pet’s skin. For several minutes after the sting, the venom sac on the stinger can continue to pulsate, injecting venom into the area. Wasps, hornets and yellow jackets (which are specific types of wasps), however, don’t have barbed stingers. They retain their stinger and can sting multiple times. This can be especially problematic if your dog uncovers a wasp nest in the ground because the stings can increase exponentially in number.
Treating Mild Cases
For bee stings, if you can find the implanted stinger, remove it by scraping a credit card along the skin. Avoid using tweezers, because you could inadvertently squeeze the venom sac, forcing more venom into the skin.
For both types of the sting, help reduce swelling by applying a cool compress to the area, made by wrapping a towel around ice or a bag of frozen vegetables. You can also mix baking soda with water to create a paste that can be applied to the skin to help neutralize the acidic venom. If possible, bandage the area to prevent your dog from licking the paste.
Do not give your dog any medication without consulting your veterinarian first. If you’re concerned about your pet, contact your veterinarian for advice.
Severe Allergic Reactions
If your dog experiences more severe signs, such as facial swelling or difficulty breathing, it’s important to get to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Depending on your dog’s condition, your pet may need to be hospitalized and the veterinarian may administer medications such as antihistamines, steroids and epinephrine as well as intravenous fluids and oxygen.
For pets that have a history of severe allergic reactions to bee stings, your veterinarian may recommend keeping an EpiPen (an epinephrine automatic injector) on hand. However, an EpiPen must be properly dosed to the size of your pet. Although the EpiPen Jr. delivers a smaller dose, it may still be too much for small dogs and cats. Talk to your veterinarian about options for your pet.
History of Bees and what to do if you get stung by them
Africanized bees are a hybrid of the European honey bee and African bees that are more defensive of their territory and they arrived in California in 1994. Africanized bees can attack in large numbers and have been known to chase a victim for up to a quarter-mile.
If you come under attack by a swarm, here are some tips:
- Run away: Do not stop to help others. However, small children and the disabled may need some assistance.
- As you are running, pull your shirt up over your head to protect your face, but make sure it does not slow your progress.
- Continue to run! Do not stop running until you reach shelters, such as a vehicle or building. A few bees may follow you indoors. However, if you run to a well-lit area, the bees will tend to become confused and fly to windows. Do not jump into the water! The bees will wait for you to come up for air. If you are trapped for some reason, cover up with blankets, sleeping bags, clothes, or whatever else is immediately available.
- Do not swat at the bees or flail your arms. Bees are attracted to movement and crushed bees emit a smell that will attract more bees.
- Once you have reached shelter or have outrun the bees, remove all stingers. When a honey bee stings, it leaves its stinger in the skin. This kills the honey bee so it can’t sting again, but it also means that venom continues to enter into the wound for a short time.
- Do not pull stingers out with tweezers or your fingers. This will only squeeze more venom into the wound. Instead, scrape the stinger out sideways using your fingernail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or another straight-edged object.
- If you see someone being attacked by bees, encourage them to run away or seek shelter. Do not attempt to rescue them yourself. Call 911 to report a serious stinging attack. The emergency response personnel in your area will likely have been trained to handle bee attacks.
- If you have been stung more than 15 times, or are feeling ill, or if you have any reason to believe you may be allergic to bee stings, seek medical attention immediately. The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight. This means that although 500 stings can kill a child, the average adult could withstand more than 1100 stings.
Types of Bee Stings
- A bee sting reaction may be as mild as slight burning or itching for several minutes
- More venomous insect stings may cause profound swelling, pain, itching, and redness
- In the most extreme situation, a dog may have an anaphylactic shock (a life-threatening, severe, allergic reaction) as a result of exposure to the insect venom. These signs can include difficulty breathing, collapse, and death.
- Can Bee Or Wasp Sting Be Fatal For Dogs?
Every year I speak to friends, colleagues and customers who have animals they believe have been stung by a bee or a wasp.
Notice I’m not committing to one or the other because most of the general public really can’t tell the difference. Even when they can tell the difference, they are never 100% sure which insect actually stung the animal.
I’ve probably dealt with around thirty cases of pets being stung by wasps and bees but only five where the animal had serious side effects and one that “almost” died.
In the most serious cases, the pet disturbed a nest and was stung multiple times in and around the mouth and nose which immediately raises the risk of swelling to the animal’s airways.
The dog that almost died was a small terrier that disturbed a bumblebee nest in a rockery. Bumblebee stings lack the barb of the honey bee, meaning the can sting multiple times.
Any animal can react to the proteins in bee and wasp venom and then develop the severe allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock.
The very best cure for a wasp or bee sting, that I’ve tested personally and can see no reason why it wouldn’t work on a cat or dog, is a device called an aspivenin – or venom extractor (essentially a syringe that works in reverse).
When using these the swelling goes down very quickly but pain receptors have already been activated so the pain remains.
But, when all is said and done, it makes no difference what has stung your pet – stay safe and call the vet.
- How dangerous are Bees to my Dogs?
Multiple stings are dangerous: Most of the time, an insect sting is just painful and irritating for your dog. Getting stung several times, or stung inside the mouth or throat, is dangerous and requires a trip to the veterinarian.
Bee and wasp stings are venomous: The two most common types of stinging insects are bees and wasps. It’s not the small puncture wound that causes the sting’s pain, but the small amount of venom that is injected.
- A bee’s stinger is barbed and designed to lodge in the skin, killing the bee when the stinger detaches from the body.
- Wasp stingers are not barbed but are more painful, and if provoked these insects can sting multiple times.
Most of the time, dogs get stung on their faces from investigating a stinging insect too closely. A sting on your dog’s sensitive nose is particularly painful. Some dogs may even get stung on the tongue or inside their mouth or throat if they try to bite or catch an insect. These stings can be dangerous. The subsequent swelling can close your dog’s throat and block their airway.
Watch for allergic reactions: A severe reaction can be caused by a large number of stings or by an allergic reaction. Signs of a reaction include:
- General weakness
- Difficulty breathing
- A large amount of swelling extending away from the sting site
If your dog is having a severe reaction, you need to take the dog to a vet immediately.
A simple sting can be safely left alone: It should be bothersome only temporarily. If a stinger is still present, try to remove it by scraping it with a fingernail or a rigid piece of cardboard. Avoid using tweezers or forceps to remove it unless absolutely necessary as this may force more venom out of the stinger.
Administer a remedy for the pain: Applying a weak mixture of water and baking soda to the affected area will help reduce the pain. You can also wrap ice or an ice-pack in a towel and apply it to the wound to reduce swelling and pain.
Maintain a watchful eye on your dog: Observe your dog closely after the sting incident to ensure an allergic reaction doesn’t develop. If several days pass and the swelling doesn’t go down, notify your veterinarian.
- How can I Prevent Dog Bites?
To minimize exposure to bee stings try to help your pet avoid flower beds, a favourite habitat of bees. Bees also may build nests in eaves of houses and in trees. Some hornets and wasps build their nests in the ground, so pay careful attention to where your dog may be digging when he is outside. It is always a good idea to monitor your property for nests and have them removed when detected. Bees abound in the spring and summer and “bee proofing” your dog’s environment is a big job. It is a good idea to have the phone numbers for your veterinarian and local veterinary emergency clinic on hand in case your dog is stung.
- How do I know if my dog needs emergency care?
Some dogs and cats may be allergic to bee stings, and they can go into anaphylactic shock (and even die) if they don’t receive immediate veterinary attention.
“If your dog gets stung by a bee and starts vomiting within five to 10 minutes and his gums become pale, that’s when you know they are going into anaphylactic shock,” Dr Richieri of Melrose Clinic says, “At our clinic, we see one or two dogs a week with severe reactions, and we treat them with IV fluids to prevent shock and give steroids and Benadryl injections into the bloodstream immediately. They normally need to stay at the clinic for 48 hours before we determine if they are healthy enough to go home.”
- My dog got stung in the mouth what can I do?
If your dog has eaten a wasp or bee or been stung in the mouth, tongue or throat, you may see severe facial or neck swelling. This is a concern because the swelling may cause a blockage in your pet’s airway resulting in them struggling to breathe. If this does happen you should seek urgent veterinary advice.