After a long, hard day of playing outside, Fido came home with a swollen snout that makes him look more like an elephant seal than a dog. As it turns out, Fido thought it would be fun to dig up that bee’s nest in your yard. The bees didn’t agree.
While you quietly laugh at your dog’s expense (his face does look like cartoon character), it’s important to take steps to start treating the bee sting right away.
You should also be prepared to rush to the vet if the symptoms and swelling get worse.
What can you do to help ease your pup’s suffering? We’re going to share some tips on how to treat your dog’s bee sting. First, you should know why these insects sting in the first place, and what symptoms to be on the lookout for.
Table of Contents
- Why Do Bees Sting Dogs?
- The Dangers of Dog Bee Stings
- Common Bee Sting Symptoms in Dogs
- How to Treat Dog Bee Stings – 8 Proven Ways
- 3 Precautions to Take When Treating Your Dog
Why Do Bees Sting Dogs?
Bees sting dogs for the same reason they sting humans – they’re agitated. When excited or angry, bees will sting what they believe is a threat.
Dogs are curious creatures, and they have a reputation for getting into things they shouldn’t be getting into. That includes bees’ nests.
Dogs get that characteristic swelling of the snout and neck because they typically get stung on the face. Why? Because Fido and his cousins use their noses to investigate the world around them. Unfortunately, bees don’t take too kindly to noses poking around their nests.
The Dangers of Dog Bee Stings
Like with humans, a single bee sting probably won’t harm your dog, although it can still be painful. Multiple stings, however, can be dangerous.
If your pup is stung in the throat or inside the mouth, the situation can quickly become dangerous. The throat and/or mouth can start to swell, making it difficult or impossible for the dog to breathe.
Need to hire an exterminator? Get a free estimate online from top local home service pros in your area.
Why are Bee Stings Dangerous to Dogs?
It’s not uncommon for dogs to get stung by bees, but it’s not the puncture wound that causes issues: it’s the venom.
Each time a bee stings your dog, a small amount of poison is injected into the wound.
Common Bee Sting Symptoms in Dogs
Dogs have a high tolerance for pain, and to avoid appearing vulnerable, they usually suffer in silence if they’re injured.
But when it comes to bee stings, dogs are usually quite vocal about the incident. Common symptoms of a sting include:
- Whining or yelping
- Swelling in the face or eyes
- Pawing at the eyes or face
Just like with humans, dogs can be allergic to bees. Allergic reactions can have severe or deadly consequences. As a responsible pet owner, it is your duty to be on the lookout for signs of an allergic reaction, and seek emergency care immediately.
Signs of an allergic reaction include:
- Trouble breathing
- Extreme swelling that extends beyond the sting site
Dogs can also experience delayed anaphylaxis, so it’s important to keep an eye on your pooch for several days after the sting occurs.
If your dog experiences any of the symptoms above, take him to the vet immediately. Allergic reactions can cause anaphylaxis. In severe cases, symptoms can appear within minutes of the sting.
In addition to the symptoms above, anaphylaxis may cause:
- Difficulty controlling the bowels
Always seek immediate emergency care if your dog is stung on the eye or in the mouth.
How to Treat Dog Bee Stings – 8 Proven Ways
In most cases, dogs suffer from a simple single bee sting, which can often be left alone and treated at home. With that said, you should still bring Fido to the vet right away. The vet will be able to determine whether your dog is having an allergic reaction, and if so, provide you with the appropriate treatment for the sting.
If your veterinarian says Fido is just fine, there are several remedies you can administer to ease pain, bring down the swelling and make your pup feel a little more comfortable.
First thing’s first – remove the stinger. Try scraping the stinger with a hard piece of cardboard or your fingernail to dislodge and remove it. Avoid using tweezers unless it’s absolutely necessary, as squeezing the stinger can cause more venom to seep out.
1. Baking Soda Paste
One simple and safe way to give your dog some relief is to apply baking soda paste to the sting.
Just mix a teaspoon of baking soda with just enough water to make a paste. Apply a small amount to the affected area. A little bit goes a long way, so you may not need to apply all of the paste at once.
This method is a safe and effective way to relieve pain – and especially useful for bee stings on dog paws – so your dog can get to his old self more quickly.
2. Apply an Ice Pack
A simple ice pack can help alleviate inflammation and pain caused by the sting. Try applying a wrap to the sting. Wrap ice in a towel and apply to the sting.
Not all dogs are tolerant of ice packs. If Fido doesn’t like the ice packs, you may need to try a different treatment.
One common and effective way to treat dog bee stings is Benadryl (a.k.a. diphenhydramine). According to PetMD, the standard dosage for Benadryl is 1 mg per pound of bodyweight, and it should be administered two to three times per day.
Ask your veterinarian about the appropriate dosage for your dog.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be another effective way to treat your dog’s bee sting. ACV can actually neutralize the venom from the stinger.
Just soak a cotton ball or Q-tip in the vinegar, and apply it to the sting.
Apply ACV to the wound several times until the swelling goes down. Be careful not to get any of the vinegar in your pet’s eyes.
5. Aloe Vera
Known for its skin-soothing properties, aloe vera can be an effective treatment for bee stings. Not only can it help alleviate pain, but it can also help bring down the swelling.
Aloe is the go-to treatment for sunburns, and in the same way, it can help alleviate the painful burning sensation bee stings often cause.
Be sure to use pure aloe, and avoid products that do not contain alcohol or other chemicals.
6. Calamine, Milk of Magnesia, or Hydrocortisone Cream
If the sting causes irritation, which is common, a soothing cream can help bring relief for your pup.
Milk of magnesia, hydrocortisone and calamine creams can all help ease irritation when applied several times per day.
If you’d rather not use these products, colloidal oatmeal or regular oatmeal can provide similar results.
7. Epsom Salt
Just as Epsom salt can bring much-needed relief to humans, it can also bring relief to Fido if he’s stung by a bee.
There are two ways to use Epsom salt in your sting treatment: bathing and spot application.
If your dog will tolerate it, you can dissolve one teaspoon of Epsom salt in two cups of warm water, and bathe him in this mixture. The salt will soothe his irritated skin while helping to ease pain and tension.
If your dog isn’t interested in bathing (can you blame him?), you can use spot treatments instead. Dissolve one teaspoon of Epsom salt in one cup of warm water, and apply to the sting with a cotton ball or Q-tip. Repeat applications as needed until the swelling subsides.
8. Witch Hazel
To keep the wound clean and help ease irritation, apply witch hazel to the sting using a cotton ball or Q-tip.
Witch hazel can be applied several times throughout the day until the swelling and irritation subsides. It will also help alleviate itching, which can help speed up the healing process.
3 Precautions to Take When Treating Your Dog
If your vet gives you the go-ahead to treat your pup’s sting at home, you’ll need to take precautions and keep an eye on his symptoms.
1. Discourage Your Dog from Irritating the Sting
As the sting starts healing, it will likely start getting itchy, too. Unfortunately, Fido doesn’t understand that itching the wound can cause infection or extend the healing process. And we don’t have any effective way to communicate this message to our dogs either.
Do your best to keep your dog from scratching, biting, pawing or gnawing on the sting. In extreme cases, a cone may need to be used if your dog becomes obsessive.
In many cases, wrapping the wound in gauze will keep him from messing with it.
2. Keep an Eye on His Symptoms
Remember, dogs can develop a reaction to bee stings days after the sting occurs, so keep an eye on his symptoms. Be prepared to make an emergency vet visit if allergy symptoms appear.
3. Have a Comfortable Place for Rest
Depending on the severity of the sting and his reaction, your pet may feel exhausted, irritated, or depressed. Create a comfortable place for him to rest as he recovers from the sting.
A soft, comfortable bed with warm blankets can help Fido relax and sleep, which will keep him from picking at the wound and allow him to heal more quickly.