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Health & Wellness

What to do if your dog is stung by a bee

And the treatment options for that uncomfortable sting.

Backyard adventures usually mean three things for dogs: a lot of running, jumping and fun. But if there’s a beehive or nest near where your dog is playing, you’ll want to move them to another area. Bee stings can have mild to severe health consequences for dogs, so it’s always essential to protect them against these insects. 

“Dogs typically get stung by bees when they disturb a nest or swarm,” Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, explains. “Bees typically sting a dog on their face or paws.”

Dr. McCullough recommends taking your dog to the vet after they’ve been stung by a bee — especially if they suffer from anaphylaxis, which is a rapid, severe and life-threatening allergic reaction. Bee stings can negatively affect dogs’ health and can sometimes be fatal. Some dogs will have mild pain and swelling, while others will experience vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, collapse, respiratory distress or seizures, Dr. McCullough explains.

What to do if a dog gets stung by a bee

If your dog is stung by a bee, look for the stinger or puncture wound, in addition to swollen, red or warm skin, Dr. McCullough says. 

Remove the bee’s stinger as quickly as possible after your dog is stung. According to Dr. McCullough, a bee’s stinger can continue to release venom even if it’s not attached to the bee. “If pet parents feel they can safely remove the bee stinger from their dog, they can scrape a hard plastic card, like a credit card, over the area and flick it off,” she says. “Pet parents should not use tweezers as they may inadvertently squeeze more venom into their dog.”

Try applying a cold compress to the punctured area. And if your dog has a reaction, take them to the veterinarian’s office or emergency clinic for treatment where professionals can diagnose the bee sting through a physical examination and observe your pet’s symptoms. 

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How are dogs’ bee stings treated? 

How a vet treats a dog’s bee sting depends on their reaction. According to Dr. McCullough, pups are most commonly treated by removing the stinger, applying cold compresses to the affected area and giving your dog antihistamines (like Benadryl) or pain medication. Do not give your dog medication, like Benadryl without guidance from your vet.

“Dogs that experience anaphylaxis typically require hospitalization, intensive treatment, monitoring and nursing care,” she adds.

To protect your dog from future bee stings, Dr. McCullough recommends keeping your pup away from known beehives and swarms. If your dog has a history of anaphylaxis, it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about pet-friendly EpiPens, or pre-loaded syringes of epinephrine, she says.

Bee stings can be painful and dangerous to dogs, but with vet-approved, appropriate care, symptoms typically resolve within 12 to 24 hours. 

Dogs are naturally curious animals, and it can sometimes get them into trouble — like the off chance they sniff out a beehive or nest. Of course, we hope your dog never encounters a beehive or nest, but if they do, you’ll know how to help and make them comfortable post-sting. 

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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