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How to treat a bee sting at home

Updated: May 8

Tips on how to treat a bee (or other insect) sting at home and how to know when it’s time to take your pet to the ER.

Bee sting in dogs

When a bee or insect (such as a spider) stings a dog, it can result in a sudden allergic reaction. While most dogs are usually stung on their mouths, faces, and paws, stings can occur anywhere on their body.

In general, there is no way to predict if a dog will have an allergic reaction, or whether it will be mild or severe. Some dogs will have no reaction to an initial sting, but will then have a severe reaction the next time it happens.

Dogs who are stung can experience everything from mild to life-threatening reactions. Mild signs can quickly become severe, and early treatment can help prevent progression of the reaction. Symptoms can include:

Mild symptoms of a bee sting

  • Swollen or puffy face

  • Pain in the swollen area

  • Swelling around the eyes

  • Redness around the eyes

  • Lumps and bumps over the skin

  • Redness of the skin

  • Head shaking

  • Itchiness

Severe symptoms of a bee sting

  • Severe, progressing itching and facial swelling

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Collapse

  • Staggering

  • Pale gums

  • Swelling of the larynx ("voice box")

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Difficulty swallowing

If there are signs of vomiting, breathing difficulty, weakness or collapse, have your dog examined by a vet immediately.

Here is what a "typical" allergic reaction to a bee or insect sting can look like (thank you Ranger for being our model!)

Typical appearance of a bee sting in dogs

The "ABC's" of what to do:

How to treat a bee sting at home

"A" is for assess

  • Assess the area if your pet's body you believe was stung and try to locate a stinger. If found, remove it by scraping it out with a credit card or plucking it out with tweezers. Be careful not to put pressue on the venom sac during removal, as this will inject more venom into your dog. If you don’t feel confident in removing the stinger, wait until your veterinarian can do it.

"B" is for baking soda and Benadryl

  • To help neutralize some of the acidic venom, apply a paste of baking soda mixed with water to the sting area.

  • Give 1mg of Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) for every pound of body weight (example: a 25 pound dog would get 25mg of Benadryl). Giving Benadryl is not a substitute for vet care, but can buy time as you make your way to the closest vet office.

"C" is for compress

  • Apply a cool compress to the area to help reduce swelling and pain.

  • This will also help constrict the blood vessels, thereby “slowing” the spread of venom.

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