Bee and wasp stings in dogs: what to do if your dog is stung

During the warmer months, when nature is in full bloom and our furry friends are exploring, encounters with bees and wasps are extremely common. Understanding how to tell if your dog has been stung by a bee or wasp and what to do can make a big difference in ensuring their comfort and reducing your stress levels.

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Fortunately, most bee or wasp stings in dogs only cause mild reactions that can be monitored at home. But in rare cases, they can cause severe reactions. Our Joii vets are available 24 hours a day. If your dog has been stung and you need advice, download the app and speak to a professional right away.

bee and wasp stings in dogs

How to tell if your dog has been stung by a bee or wasp

The most common signs of a bee or wasp sting are swelling and signs of pain in the affected area. You might notice your dog whining and crying. Or even limping if they are stung on their leg. They will often try to nibble or rub the affected area. Less commonly, swollen lumps called hives can develop. These may appear within a few minutes or even up to hours after the sting. They usually disappear within 24-48 hours. 

bee and wasp sting in dog
Hives on a dog’s body

Severe reactions are rare and tend to occur with stings on the muzzle or inside the mouth. These are known as anaphylactic reactions. Multiple stings are also more likely to cause a more severe reaction. 

Things to watch out for with stings

Signs of a serious reaction include excessive drooling and swelling around the face, vomiting, breathing difficulties, and collapse. If these signs develop, take your dog to a vet straight away. 

What to do if your dog has been stung by a bee

If you see your dog being stung or they are showing signs of a sting, try to remain calm. 

  • If possible, remove the bee sting carefully using an object with a straight edge. Try to avoid squeezing the area, as this can release more toxins. Be careful when doing this; pain may cause your dog to react aggressively towards you. 
  • Use a cold compress, like an ice pack wrapped in a tea towel, on the affected area for 10-15 minutes to help reduce swelling. 
  • Take your dog home and allow them to rest while monitoring their symptoms for at least 24 hours. Most severe reactions happen within 30-60 minutes of a sting. 

Bee stings are acidic; using a mixture of baking soda and water can help to soothe the sting. 
Wasp stings are alkaline; using vinegar can help neutralise the sting.

Don’t use antihistamines without speaking to a vet

  • Some antihistamines are safe to use in dogs, but not all; some are even dangerous. And it’s important to use the correct dose for your dog. Speak to a vet before giving your dog this type of medication. 

Is a bee or wasp sting in dogs an emergency?

Most stings only cause mild reactions and can be safely monitored at home. Symptoms of swelling or discomfort usually resolve within 1-2 days. Try not to worry if your dog has swallowed the bee or wasp; this may lead to a mild tummy upset but it often resolves quickly. 

Anaphylactic reactions are rare but will need emergency treatment. Signs include excessive drooling, vomiting, fast breathing and collapse. 

How to prevent bee or wasp stings

Dogs, especially puppies, are very curious creatures. They like to chase and eat things that move around. And they don’t tend to learn if they’ve already had a previous bad encounter with a spicy sky raisin. 

Try to monitor your dog when outdoors during the high-risk months and avoid areas with large populations of bees or wasps. 

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Follow our advice to keep your furry friend safe and happy during outdoor adventures, all year round.

Our Joii vets are here to help 24 hours a day. Download the app and speak to our vets if you have any concerns about your dog.

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