As winter fades away into spring, flowers are beginning to bloom. Those flowers attract stinging insects like bees … but bees and dogs don’t always get along. Usually, your dog’s curiosity and friendly nature is a wonderful thing. But, making friends with a bee can cause problems.
Some dogs eat bees and get stung in the mouth. Other times, dogs get stung by a bee on their paw or their nose! Then you might worry if your dog’s allergic to bee stings. What does it look like when your dog’s been stung by a bee? What can you do for your dog when he gets stung? How do you treat a bee sting on a dog?
Don’t worry … we’ve got the answers to all those questions for you!
Symptoms Of A Bee Sting
Short of him bringing you a bee, the easiest way to tell if your dog’s been stung by a bee is to watch for any signs of swelling on his face or body. Your dog might tell you something’s wrong if he’s pawing at his face or whatever spot on his body was stung.
Because dogs are curious, faces are common places to get a bee sting. Pads are another likely spot when dogs step on a bee. And then you’ll see him holding up his swollen, painful paw.
When A Bee Sting Is Serious
If your dog gets stung in his mouth or throat, the area could swell up and block his breathing, and that can be an emergency. Other dogs can have strong allergic reactions to bee stings. This type of allergic reaction can happen within minutes or hours. So watch for some of these severe symptoms.
- Difficulty breathing (watch for swelling around the face and neck)
- Profuse drooling
- Dizziness, agitation or disorientation
- Weakness or difficulty walking
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Any of these serious reactions call for a vet visit. But on your way there, give your dog one of the homeopathic remedies (under Alternatives To Benadryl below). They can act fast to bring down swelling … so having these remedies on hand could save your dog’s life.
Non-Emergency Bee Stings
For less serious bee stings, here’s what to do.
Remove The Stinger
For less severe reactions, the first thing to do is to check and see if the bee left a stinger in your dog.
Unlike other stinging insects like hornets and wasps, bees leave their stinger behind. Bee stingers contain venom, so the longer the stinger is in your dog, the more venom he’ll get. Also, honeybee stingers are barbed, which makes them more painful.
Act fast to get the stinger out of your dog. But you want to remove the stinger carefully, without squeezing more venom into your dog.
First, make sure your dog stays still. You can scrape the stinger out with something that has a straight edge like a credit card, a key, or your fingernail. Some people say it’s best not to use tweezers because they can release more venom by squeezing the stinger. But a University of California study found that it’s best to get the stinger out faster by using tweezers.
Speed is the main concern, so use whatever you can find quickly!
After you’ve removed the bee stinger from your dog, clean up the spot with soap and water. Then you can use some topical remedies to make your dog as comfortable as possible.
Natural Ways To Ease Discomfort From A Bee Sting
You hate seeing your dog uncomfortable or in pain … and you’ll know something is wrong he’s been stung by a bee. So here are some ways to ease his discomfort … and they’re all things you probably have at home already.
The easiest way to do this is to apply an ice pack to the wound, on and off, for 10 minutes at a time. This will decrease swelling and help with the pain.
You can mix baking soda and water to create a thick paste that will help lessen the sting where your dog was stung. Leave the mixture on for a few minutes and then rinse off.
Grind oats into a fine powder and add water to make a past. Place it on the bee sting site for 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off.
Honey can help with pain and wound healing. Dab a little raw honey onto the area.
If you’re outside with your dog, look for some plantain. This soothing herb most people consider a weed is everywhere! Chew a leaf in your mouth and then apply it to the sting area.
Dab some witch hazel on the area to help reduce swelling, pain and itching.
If you have an aloe vera plant, use some gel from an aloe vera leaf to soothe the pain of a bee sting. You can buy leaves at most grocery stores (they’ll keep for 3 days in the fridge).
These topical remedies can ease your dog’s pain. Keep applying as needed. But you might be tempted to give him medication like Benadryl as well. Try to avoid it, because there are alternatives to Benadryl that work just as well … and they’re totally safe.
Why You Should Avoid Benadryl
Benadryl … that small pink pill that allergy sufferers know all too well. It’s an antihistamine that veterinarians often suggest for allergies and anxiety … or even an allergic reaction to a bee sting. But here’s the thing … Benadryl suppresses your dog’s symptoms. Those bee sting symptoms, while uncomfortable, helps your dog to heal.
Benadryl also has many side effects, and the dosing margins are narrow, so it’s easy to give too much. Adverse effects of Benadryl include serious problems like …
- Breathing problems
- Rapid heart rate
- Inability to walk
- Difficulty peeing
So avoid Benadryl (even though your vet might tell you to use it) … and try the homeopathic remedies below.
Alternatives to Benedryl
Benadryl may be easy … but there are better ways to handle bee stings. So leave that pink pill in the medicine cabinet.
Homeopathic Remedies For Bee Stings
The best remedies for bee stings are two homeopathic remedies. They’re effective and fast-acting, so they’ll relieve your dog’s pain and swelling within a few minutes. They’re great remedies for many first aid situations, so they’re good ones to have on hand in case of bee stings … or any other insect bite or sting.
- Ledum palustre (30C or 200C): use for insect stings or puncture wounds
- Apis mellifica (30C or 200C): use for allergic reactions with red or swollen bites or stings
If the bite area is cold and puffy, try Ledum first. If it’s red, itchy, painful and very swollen, try Apis first.
How To Dose
The remedies come in small tubes of pellets. As soon as possible after the bee sting, give your dog 2-3 pellets, then repeat the dose in 15 minutes. You should see improvement by then. If so, there’s no need to re-dose unless he backslides. But if the swelling and pain doesn’t go down in the first half hour, try the other remedy, using the same dosing schedule.
Here are a few tips …
- Try not to touch the pellets with your hands. Tip them out of the cap straight into your dog’s mouth.
- An easier method is to put the pellets in a small glass of spring water (not tap water), stir vigorously and use a teaspoon or dropper to put some on your dog’s gums.
- Use the same water for redosing. Make a new batch in a clean glass if you have to switch to the other remedy.
Bee sting discomfort shouldn’t last more than a day or two. In most cases your dog should feel better within hours.
In the meantime, it’s a great excuse to spoil your dog and give him plenty of attention to help distract him from his discomfort.
Visscher PK, Vetter RS, Camazine S. Removing bee stings. Lancet. 1996 Aug 3;348(9023):301-2.