What To Do If A Bee Stings Your Dog Or Cat

It's a typical sun-drenched day and your dog is soaking up everything about summer.

Dancing with butterflies. And then ... stung by a bee.

Don't panic. Well, wait. Don't we all panic?

After all ... bee sting!

Many humans know that sensation all too well - a short, sharp jab and then fire in the veins. For those of us with allergies, a bee sting can be more than a passing EIEEIEIEIEYA!

And the same often goes for your best furry friend. Minus, of course, the screaming hysteria.

"In general, dogs and cats have a similar reaction to bee stings as humans," Erika Loftin, a critical care specialist at DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, tells The Dodo. "For most animals, the sting will usually result in painful, local swelling."

Give it about 24 hours, she adds, and that swelling should ease up. But, as with humans, things can get a lot worse if your pet has an allergic reaction to the sting.

Swelling, hives, pale gums and trouble breathing are some of the more common symptoms. You'll know it's happening, Loftin explains, because it's instant.

And, unfortunately, it can get even worse. Major swelling and vomiting will need an immediate trip to your local veterinarian.

"It is possible for a pet to go into anaphylactic shock resulting from a bee sting, so it's important to get them treated as soon as possible," Loftin says.

Allergies can be a real killer. So it may be a good idea to get your cat or dog checked out for them before summer brings those bees. That way you can keep treatment close at hand.

Whether your pet has allergies or not, it's also a good idea to have a bottle of Benadryl, or any generic version, handy.

But be careful. While Benadryl is frequently bandied about on internet forums as a treatment for bee stings in animals, it was made for humans.

"It's very important to consult a doctor before giving your pets any kind of medicine, especially medicine intended for humans," Loftin says.

For one thing, dosages can vary wildly between human and dog or cat. And before you even go there, keep in mind that a bee sting can often be treated with only a cold compress.

At least it shouldn't be too hard to find the spot where the bee made his fateful mark.

Generally, it will be the animal's foot - bees tend to get inadvertently stomped by playful dogs - or, a little more unfortunately, that tender nub of the nose.

Cats and dogs tend to approach grass and bushes nose first.

Much more rarely - and infinitely more unfortunate - a dog will swallow a bee.


Hopefully, it doesn't come to that. As with humans, bee stings most commonly amount to a lot of tears. But it's a passing trauma.

"If your dog yelps and starts to lick or paw at a certain area, watch for swelling to see if it could be a bee sting," Loftin explains. "If the swelling is minor, you can remove the stinger to prevent more swelling, and then treat the area with a cold compress. Monitor your pet closely to make sure the affected area doesn't get worse."

And keep telling your best friend - and yourself - that you're going to get through this.

For more information on what you can do to protect your pet from seasonal threats, click here.