Bee stings: what to do if your dog is stung

Bee stings are a common scourge with dogs as they like to chase buzzing, flying insects but bee stings can be deadly. It’s part of a dog’s nature to be curious about insects but unfortunately some dogs can be highly allergic to stings and if your dog shows any of the symptoms below you must get to your vet asap.

The two most common types of stinging insects are bees and wasps. It’s not the small puncture wound that causes the sting’s pain, but the small amount of poison that is injected. A bee’s stinger is barbed and lodges in the skin, killing the bee when the stinger detaches from the body. Wasp stingers are not barbed but are more painful, and if provoked these insects can sting multiple times

Bee stings: why they’re dangerous

Most of the time dogs are stung on their faces from investigating a stinging insect too closely, and a single sting can be no more than an irritation and painful. A sting on your dog’s sensitive nose is particularly painful. However, if the dog is stung on the tongue or inside their mouth or throat if they try to bite or catch an insect this is very dangerous. The subsequent swelling can close your dog’s throat and block his airway.

Bee sting allergies

Some dogs are allergic to bee stings so watch out for the following symptoms:

• Vomiting

• Diarrhoea

• Staggering

• Pale gums

• Swelling of the larynx leading to difficulty breathing

• Sudden collapse

A severe reaction can be caused by a large number of stings or by an allergic reaction. Signs of a reaction include:

  • General weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A large amount of swelling extending away from the sting site

If your dog is having a severe reaction, you need to take the dog to a vet immediately.

A simple sting can be safely left alone. It should be bothersome only temporarily. If a stinger is still present, try to remove it by scraping it with a fingernail or a rigid piece of cardboard. Avoid using tweezers or forceps to remove it unless absolutely necessary as this may force more venom out of the stinger.

Administer a remedy for the pain. Applying a weak mixture of water and baking soda to the affected area will help reduce the pain. You can also wrap ice or an icepack in a towel and apply it to the wound to reduce swelling and pain.

Maintain a watchful eye on your dog. Observe your dog closely after the sting incident to ensure an allergic reaction doesn’t develop. If several days pass and the swelling doesn’t go down, notify your vet immediately.

Zoe’s close encounter with the stinging kind

Poor Zoe Ferguson had a rather nasty encounter with a bee and was rushed to our Country Animal Clinic. Dr Annemarie gave her a cortisone injection but says if this happens at home, owners can immediately treat with Allergex: 1 tablet for every 10kg the dog weighs

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Department of Health COVID-19 updates available at www.sacoronavirus.co.za

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