What to Do If Your Dog is Stung by a Bee

With spring, warmer weather, and the flowering of plants fast approaching, also brings the much needed return of bees. Our naturally inquisitive dogs, along with their hard-wired instincts to chase anything fast-moving, carries with it the risk of bee stings. Whilst most dogs will suffer little to no reaction after being stung by a bee, it can trigger an allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock in some dogs. So what is the best way to go about treating a bee sting?

1. Locate the Affected Area

We might not actually see our dog get stung by a bee, and therefore the first sign to look out for is redness and swelling, as well as the dog licking and/or pawing at the area. Common areas for bee stings to occur are on the foot pads or nose where there is no protective fur present.

2. Remove the Stinger

Next, the bee's stinger needs to be removed using an object with a blunt, rigid edge such as a credit card. Gently scrape the stinger out using the edge of the credit card. DO NOT use tweezers or anything sharp to remove the stinger, as this can cause the venom sac on the stinger to burst, which will subsequently cause more venom to secrete into the dog’s body.

3. Clean the Affected Area

After the stinger has been safely removed, the area must be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild soap, and for added protection to keep bacteria out, an antibacterial ointment can be spread over the site of the sting.

4. Soothe the Affected Area

Minimise swelling by placing an ice pack over the affected area for 5 to 30 minutes at a time – do not leave the ice pack on the area for longer than this in order to prevent restricted blood flow. To further soothe the affected area and reduce itching, apply a paste of baking soda and water mixed together and allow it to dry.

Continue to keep a close eye on your dog for 24 hours following the bee sting, looking out for signs of an allergic reaction or hives. If your dog is showing swelling on the face, neck, lips, ears, muzzle or eyes then bring them to the vet or give them an oral antihistamine such as Benadryl. Do not give any antihistamines containing aspirin or paracetamol as it can be poisonous to dogs. A safe dosage for dogs is 1mg per pound of their body weight.