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Bee and Wasp Stings View In Dogs

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Fur protects most of their bodies, but pets can be bitten or stung on their sparsely furred stomachs or flanks when they blunder into a hive or even a fire ant nest. Most of the time, the sting or bite causes minor swelling and redness that can be hard to see under the fur and is itchy or painful.


Some pets can have serious allergic reactions to otherwise harmless insects. It may take only one sting for a pet's muzzle to swell up like a cantaloupe, even if he has been stung on the tail.

In rare instances, the reaction also happens on the inside, and a pet's throat swells and shuts of his air supply. This usually happens suddenly, and symptoms include fever or low body temperature, wheezing, trembling, weakness, pale gums, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, and collapse. This is a medical emergency called anaphylactic shock that requires immediate veterinary attention.


Dogs and cats car often stung on the face, head, or inside the mouth when they try to play with bees and wasps.

Caution: Spider Bites - Most spider bites cause painful swelling only at the site, and they are treated just like bee or wasp stings. A handful of spiders are venomous, and after the initial sharp pain from the bite, pets can develop chills, fever, labored breathing, and shock within 30 minutes to 6 hours. First aid helps, but an injection of antivenin may be necessary, and pets may suffer partial paralysis for days until they recover.

If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a poisonous spider, apply ice immediately to slow the spread of venom. Put him in a pet carrier or right in the car, but don't let him walk. Walking can hasten the spread of the poison. Your pet needs veterinary treatment as soon as possible.


Diagnosis is made by physical examination of the sting site.


For Anaphylactic Shock

  1. Look for signs of shock - Anaphylactic shock is a condition in which the blood circulation shuts down. Symptoms can include pale gums, trembling, weakness, fever or low body temperature, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, fast breathing, and collapse.

    Pets can die from shock in 10 - 20 minutes unless they get veterinary help. Wrap your pet in a blanket to keep him warm and turn on the car heater if the weather is cool. You can also put a drop of Karo syrup or honey on your pet's gums to help keep him conscious.
  2. Treat the swelling with an OTC remedy - If your pet is conscious and able to swallow, the best thing to do is give him an over the counter antihistamine like Benadryl to counteract the swelling. The liquid usually comes in a dose of 12.5mg per teaspoon - pills are usually 25mg each. Pets will need 1mg for each pound they weigh. This equals 3/4 teaspoon of liquid or 1.2 pill for a 10lb cat or dog. After this, get your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

  3. Drain your pets lungs - You pet can make gurgling noises as he struggles to breathe if his lungs fill up with fluid. Pick up a small pet by his hind legs, or life a larger pet around his hips and hold him upside down for 10 seconds to help drain fluid from the lungs.

  4. Be prepared to perform artificial respiration - If your pet stops breathing, wrap your hand around his muzzle to close his mouth and blow 2 quick breaths into his nose, watching to see his chest rise. You may need to blow quite hard to force air past his swollen throat into his lungs. Give 15 - 20 breaths per minute until your pet begins to breathe again or until you reach medical help.

  5. Check your pets pulse or heartbeat - Place your palm or ear against the left side of your pet's chest directly behind the elbow to detect the heartbeat. You can also feel the pulse in the crease where his hind leg joins his body, because that is where the large femoral artery runs near the surface.

  6. If the heart is not beating, start CPR - For a cat or small dog, cup a hand over the point of the chest just behind the elbows. Squeeze firmly in a "cough-like" manner between your fingers and thumb, pressing about 1.2 inch (12.5cm) about 80 - 100 times per minute. Alternate one breath for every 5 compressions.

    For a larger dog, put him on a firm, flat surface on his side and use both hands on top of each other to compress his chest by 25 - 50% giving a breath into the nose after every 5th compression until your pet revives or until you reach medical help.

For Routine Stings and Bites
  1. Remove the stinger - If you can see the stinger, it is best to remove it. Bees leave their stingers behind, and a stinger may continue to pump venom into the body as long as it remains in the skin. Scrape it free with a credit card, blunt knife blade, or the edge of a finger nail.

  2. Try an over the counter remedy - As long as your pet is breathing properly, he probably won't need to see a veterinarian even if his face or head swells quite a bit. An over the counter antihistamine like Benadryl usually takes down the swelling within 20 minutes or so. The liquid usually comes in a dose of 12.5mg per teaspoon - pills are usually 25mg each. Pets will need 1mg for each pound they weigh. This equals 3/4 teaspoon of liquid or 1.2 pill for a 10lb cat or dog. For minor swelling, you can use a Benadryl ointment directly on the wound.

  3. Use a cold pack or compress - this will soothe the pain and help reduce the swelling and inflammation.

    Rinse a clean washcloth in cold water and hold it against the swollen area, then place a cold pack or plastic bag of ice on top of the wet cloth. Apply the cold to the swelling for 10 - 20 minutes several times a day. A bag of frozen peas or corn works well as a cold pack and molds to the body contours.

  4. Make a baking soda poultice - a poultice of baking soda will help neutralize the sting, but this can be messy in fur and isn't very practical unless the sting is on a sparsely furred area. Make a poultice by mixing 1 tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to create a thick paste and dab it on the swelling.

  5. Give your pet relief with ammonia - dampen a cotton ball with ammonia and dab it on fire ant bites to relieve itching and pain. Another option is a calamine lotion like Caladryl.

  6. Try ice or baking soda - stings inside the mouth can be hard to treat, and your pet may not allow you to touch them. You can offer ice cubes or a bowl of ice, or flush your pet's mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a pint of water. Use a turkey baster or squirt gun to target the sting, but be careful that your pet doesn't inhale any liquid.


There no effective prevention for this condition.


One dose of an antihistamine like Benadryl probably won't be enough, and the swelling may come back. You can repeat the dose every 6 - 8 hours as needed.

Some pets develop hive-like reactions all over their bodies that cause severe itching - and stings tend to itch as they heal. Hives usually go away in about 24 hours (and sooner when treated with antihistamine), but you can relieve the itching with cold water soaks or oatmeal baths.

You can give acetaminophen (Tylenol) to dogs to relieve pain. Check with your vet for proper dosage. This type of pain reliever can be dangerous for cats. Your vet can prescribe your cat a safe alternative.

Stings inside the mouth can make pets refuse to eat because it hurts to chew. Soften food with warm water or low-fat, no-salt chicken broth, or even make a puree in the blender. Feed soft food for 2 days, or until the pet can manage to eat a regular diet again. If he hasn't eaten after 2 days, take him to the vet.

Pets who have experienced anaphylactic shock from an insect sting will be at risk for future life threatening reactions. Your veterinarian may give you epinephrine, a drug given as an injection beneath the skin to counter act the problem, in a device such as an Epi-Pen.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

1 Comment For "Bee and Wasp Stings"



My Plott hound ate a bumble bee today, or tried to since it stung his throat on the way down so he made a gagging action trying to remove the stinger to no avail. Very stressfull to watch because I knew he was in pain. I gave him an aspirin and benadryl immediately before his throat closed down. He is having a difficult time swallowing but no breathing problems so because of my lack of income I'm going to give hima benadryl every 8 hours and aspirin every 12 hours. Last year on my birthday my car was stolen and this year my dog gets a bee sting in his throat. Excellent site with great ideas. Especially the turkey baster with water and baking soda mixture which will help the sting, I hope.

June 18, 2013 at 5:24PM  Sign In or Join to Comment