As spring turns to summer and the weather starts to warm up, the flowers begin to bloom, bringing with them a cloud of active bees looking to pollinate. But whilst bees tend to be unbothered by us, our Cavapoo dog is obsessed with trying to catch them as they buzz by. Just last week I watched as she snuck up on an unsuspecting bumblebee and gobbled the poor thing up.
Should I be worried that my dog ate a bee? If your dog eats a bee, they are unlikely to experience any health problems, except of course if the bee stings the dog! Although a bee sting will not kill a dog (unless they are stung multiple times), they can leave your dog feeling sore and at worst, cause allergic reactions.
With bees remaining active throughout the summer and into the fall, it is important that as responsible pet owners we are aware of the implications to our dogs when eating or getting stung by a bee.
Read on to find out how to deal with bee and wasp stings and ways in which you can stop your dog from snacking on bees!
Why do dogs eat wasps and bees?
Dogs are nosey creatures – I only have to stand up and our Cavapoo jumps to attention. This is because they are curious and investigate by using their senses – watching, sniffing, pawing and licking everything and anything that moves.
We know that dogs can pick out certain colors, such as yellow, and that they are also predisposed to want to chase things that move – such as balls, cars and cats. Therefore, if your dog sees a tiny yellow flying thing, buzzing around, it makes sense that they are going to want to follow it – often with their mouths wide open!
Dogs are also interested in different textures and tastes and so they may be particularly partial to the a crunchy bee snack, as gross as that may sound to us.
But you don’t need to panic just yet if your dog does decide to eat a bee, as most bees will be digested without causing them any harm. If your dog eats a bee then they are unlikely to become sick, unless of course, the bee fights back by giving your dog a nasty sting!
What to do if your dog is stung by a bee?
The first thing to say is that most bee and wasp stings are harmless to our dogs, and even if the sting causes an allergic reaction, then these symptoms can often be treated by a veterinarian.
Just like humans, dogs are not affected by bees and wasps unless they are physically injected with their venom. Most bee stings just tend to be painful to our pooches, especially if they have been stung in a sensitive area such as their paw.
If, however, they get stung by a bee on their tongue or throat, or have experienced multiple bee stings at any one time, then this can be life-threatening as it can cause the airways to swell and block, making it difficult for your dog to breathe.
If you suspect that your dog has been stung, is struggling to draw breath or is experiencing an allergic reaction, then you should seek veterinary assistance straight away.
How to tell if your dog has been stung?
When bees sting, they pierce the skin with their barbed stingers, injecting a small amount of venom called apitoxin. In most cases, the stinger gets stuck in the dog’s skin causing a sharp pain as it pumps venom for up to 10 minutes, or until it is removed.
Did you know – When a honeybee stings it dies as its body is ripped away from the stinger. Bumblebees are able to detach themselves from their stingers and can therefore ‘buzz off’ again!
Wasps and hornet, on the other hand, have stingers that are smooth, so they can draw it back and forth to force more venom into the skin, before whizzing away.
Unless you keep a close eye on your dog all of the time, it is unlikely that you will be aware that your dog has been stung by eating a bee. It may just be that you notice them licking their paws more and scratching at their ears and nose.
In some cases, when a dog is stung, it may develop a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylactic shock. Identifying the symptoms to an anaphylactic reaction might help you save your dog’s life.
- Redness or rash on their skin
- Itchiness – which can be moderate to severe
- Thickened and inflamed ear flaps
- Swelling of the eyes, muzzle and neck
- Hives, welts or raised lumps developing on the skin
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Difficulty breathing
- Weakness and fatigue which could lead to your dog collapsing
If you spot any of these signs of bees stings, then you should take your dog to a veterinarian straight away for emergency treatment.
Can your dog die from a bee or wasp sting?
Whilst most bees stings are relatively harmless, it’s worth bearing in mind that multiple bee or wasp stings can be fatal.
If your dog is allergic to bee stings then it is likely that they will start to display signs of a reaction within 10 minutes of being stung, however, it can take hours for the sting to take full effect and the venom can last for days in a dog’s body.
This is why it is so important to keep an eye on your dog when they are in the back yard, but even more so, if they are in are area where they could disturb a beehive or wasps nest.
In fact, it is estimated that multiple stings of around 20+ from a wasp or a bee, may be enough to actually kill a dog. This is because the proteins in the bees venom can cause neurotoxins that can paralyze a dog’s spinal cord, cause internal bleeding and destroy the red blood cells in a dog’s body.
How to treat a dog that has been stung by a bee?
If you suspect that your dog may have swallowed a bee (as we did with our Cavapoo Rosie), it’s important that you monitor their behavior and appearance for many hours after, although most reactions will become apparent within a few minutes.
If your dog is showing signs of discomfort then you should start to check for swelling near your dogs mouth or throat. If you spot the stinger, then you can take it out, but do this gently so as not to inject even more venom into your dog. Avoid squeezing or pulling it and instead try to scrape it out, as you would a splinter.
If you don’t feel comfortable trying to remove the stinger yourself, then leave it for the vet to attempt, so as not to worsen the situation but try to stop your dog from licking, scratching or chewing at the area.
Once the stinger is out, you should bathe the area with warm water and mild or unscented soap.
If you have a dog that is prone to having an anaphylactic shock when stung by a bee or other harmful insects, then your veterinarian may recommend using an EpiPen (an epinephrine automatic injector) for peace of mind. These will hold a personalize dose specific to your dog and your vet can teach you how to deliver the injection, should an emergency arise.
Natural remedies for treating dogs with bee stings
If you dog appears to be coping but you want to provide your Cavapoo with some first aid at home to ease the pain from the stinger, then here are some natural remedies that you can try:
A cold compress is great for pain relief when placed over the affected area where the dog has been stung. You can use ice packs wrapped it in a towel to apply pressure to the area, and keep repeating this process for at least an hour or until the swelling has gone down.
Apple cider vinegar is also good for neutralizing the bee venom, due to its acidity. You will need to place it on some cotton wool or a bandage, but be careful not to get it too close to your dog’s eyes.
Baking soda and water
A quick and easy pain relief cream can be made by mixing three parts of baking soda with one part of water. You can then smear if over the affected area to soothe the pain, making sure that you dog is unable to lick it.
We all know the soothing benefits that the plant Aloe Vera can provide, and if you have one at home, why not cut off a leaf and gently apply the gel?
Think of it as the bees trying to make their amends, when you spread some of this sticky liquid onto your dog’s sore areas. Although honey is safe for dogs to eat in small quantities, it is probably best to cover the area with a bandage after application to prevent them from licking it off straight away.
As a baby, our eldest daughter suffered with dry skin and we were recommended by our doctor to bathe her in oatmeal in order to soothe the eczema. Exactly the same principal applies for a dog that has sore skin due to multiple bee stings. Simply grind a cup of plain oatmeal into a powder and fill up a tub with lukewarm water before placing your dog in the bath to enjoy a nice soak.
Should you use Benadryl for a dog bee sting?
Benadryl, or diphenhydramine as it is medically known, is an antihistamine which is used to relieve the symptoms of allergies such as skin rashes, in both humans and sometimes pets.
Although most vets recommend Benadryl for dogs, it is crucial that you get the dosage right. The correct amount of Benadryl for your dog will be guided by their size and weight. The standard dosage for oral Benadryl for dogs is 1 mg per pound of body weight, given 2-3 times a day.
Rosie is 15lbs (7Kg) therefore she would require 2-3 x 15mg of Benadryl per day. However, we strongly advise that you consult with your vet before giving Benadryl tablets or ointments to your dog, following a bee or wasp sting, especially if they have ever had Benadryl before.
If your pet is having a life threatening allergic reaction with facial swelling or difficulty breathing, then Benadryl is not the solution. You will need to take your dog straight to the vet as many allergic reactions also require a combination of allergy medicine and treatment for any underlying infections.
How long does it take a dog to recover from a bee sting?
How long it takes for a dog to recover from a bee sting, really depends on where they got stung, how they reacted and how many times?
Most dogs, however, are likely to feel uncomfortable for the first 24 hours, but any symptoms should have passed or subsided within a couple of days.
If you have any questions, regarding your dogs recovery to a bee sting, then you should speak to your vet, as they may want you to bring your dog in for a checkup.
How to stop your dog from eating bees
We appreciate first hand how difficult it can be to stop your dog’s curiosity from getting them into trouble. You can never keep your Cavapoo safe all of the time, as bees are explorers too, and tend to buzz around our backyards.
There are, however, ways of minimizing the risk of your dog being stung by a wasp or bee.
- Checking outdoor areas in advance for sleepy bees (especially during the spring seasons when the bees are just starting to wake). This is when bees are likely to spend a lot of time on the ground preserving precious energy.
- Avoid areas where you know there are hives.
- Watch out for felled trees. Carpenter bees like to nest here. The same can be said for large patches of flowers or blooming bushes where honey bees like to forage.
- Keep your dog on a leash. If your dog is inquisitive and likes to sniff around, place them on an extension lead, so that you can still be in control of their movements whilst allowing them the freedom to snuffle around.
If you see your dog eating, playing or batting a bee, the most important thing to do is NOT panic!
Chances are, even if your dog does swallow a. bee, they it will be absolutely fine – just like our Cavapoo Rosie was.
If your dog does show signs of an allergic reaction to a bee sting, however, such as labored breathing or excessive scratching, then it’s always best to get them seen by a vet.
Thanks to climate change, a dwindle in nature and the odd dog eating them, bees and other pollinators are now on the threatened species list. An important part of our eco system, bees are considered so precious that we even have a National Bee Day, in order to celebrate them.
Therefore it is really important that our dogs learn to live in harmony with bees – who knows, they could over time because “buzz friends”.
To find out what other things may be bad for your dog to eat, read this related blogs.