Dogs and Bee Stings (2023)

Veterinarians get many phone calls in the spring from concerned owners asking what to do if their dog is stung by a bee or wasp. Dogs, being the curious, prey-driven creatures that they are, commonly chase such insects. The end result is getting stung, often on or near the face. Occasionally dogs will also get stung on their paws if they step on a bee/wasp. Dogs also have a bad habit of trying to eat bees and other stinging insects which can lead to stings in the mouth! It certainly can be a cause for concern for a worried pet owner.

Stinging Insects to Worry About

Apidae(i.e. Apids such as honeybees and African killer bees)

Honeybees tend to sting only if provoked, but African killer bees are more aggressive and may swarm your pet and sting as a group. When these types of bees sting, they inject venom through a barbed stinger on their abdomen. The stinger remains attached to the victim and is capable of continuing to release venom. Bees die after stinging.

Vespidae(i.e., Vespids such as wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets)

Wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets are more hostile though and can sting multiple times. The stinger remains attached to their bodies and they do not die after stinging. Usually dogs are stung after disturbing a bee hive or nest.

Signs and Symptoms of Bee Stings

Common signs of a sting include pain, redness, and swelling at the sting site. If stung by a bee, the stinger may still be present in the wound. Sometimes this pain and swelling can spread to a large area around the sting site. If a dog gets stung on the face, it is not uncommon for the lips and eyelids to swell significantly. Hives (raised, splotchy, red patches) may occur in some cases. Sting sites can also be very itchy.

Can dogs be allergic to bees like humans?

Yes. Just like in humans, dogs can develop anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) from a sting. If a pet has an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting, this can occur within minutes of the sting. Delayed hypersensitivity allergic reactions can also occur, up to 3-14 days after the sting. These types of reactions can affect the cardiovascular system (i.e., heart and blood vessels), liver, immune system, and kidneys. Vomiting, significant swelling, seizures, trouble breathing, bruising, and collapse may be noted. Terrier breeds and Boxers reportedly have a higher risk of developing a reaction but this is not always the case.

Can my dog die from a bee sting?

Unfortunately yes, but this is rare. If dogs have a reaction to an Apid or Vespid sting, they could die from just one sting in a very short period of time. Dogs can also die if they’re stung too many times at once, leading to high levels of venom in the blood stream. Roughly 20 stings per kilogram of body weight is considered a lethal or deadly venom dose.

How to Treat a Bee Sting

No antidote exists for bee stings. In many cases, you can treat your dog’s bee sting at home.

  • Remove the stinger carefully

  • Run cool water over the sting site or apply a cold compress to help relieve discomfort

  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can be given to help decrease the inflammation and swelling from the sting – call your veterinarian for appropriate dosing

When to Seek Emergency Care for a Bee Sting

If your pet is painful or extremely itchy, your vet may need to prescribe pain medication or steroids. Do not use over-the-counter pain medications. If you suspect your pet is having a reaction to a bee sting, veterinary care should be sought immediately. Anaphylactic reactions can be life-threatening and need to be addressed as soon as possible.

What to do if Your Dog Eats a Bee

It is not uncommon for a dog to be stung in the mouth after eating a bee or other stinging insect. Usually the signs that occur are similar to those of an external sting: swelling, redness, and pain. If they are stung towards the back of the mouth or in the throat, the swelling may be severe enough that they have trouble breathing. Luckily, this is rare.

Bee stings inside the stomach are highly unlikely but may cause stomach pain or ulcers. Simply eating a bee will not cause issues as long as your dog isn’t stung in the process. If your pet is stung in the mouth or you suspect they have been stung in the throat, have your veterinarian check them out to ensure they won’t develop issues breathing.

How soon will my dog recover from a bee sting?

For most dogs, bee stings should improve within 12-24 hours. If new symptoms occur during that time, contact your veterinarian immediately. Some pets require hospitalization and intensive motoring. For dogs who have allergic reactions to bee stings, the next time they are stung may lead to a more severe reaction. Talk to your veterinarian about options or a protocol for treating your pet immediately in the future.

Preventing Bee Stings

Keeping bees out of your yard can be difficult and is not necessarily good for the overall environment. Try to avoid letting your dog play or walk around areas with known bee hives. Remove wasp nests carefully. Keep your grass mowed during the summer to minimize areas for bees to pollenate and frequent. Call a pest control service if you notice a bee hive or swarm (the start of a new hive) or hornet’s nest in or near your home.


Do I need to take my dog to the vet for a bee sting? ›

Speak to your veterinarian if you have any concerns

After a bee sting, dogs will typically experience some level of swelling and discomfort, but if it's their first time or you know your dog is prone to a more severe reaction, be sure to seek emergency veterinary attention.

How long after a bee sting will a dog have a reaction? ›

Signs of a potentially serious reaction usually develop within 10 to 30 minutes of the sting and include swelling of the eyes and face, which can lead to difficulty breathing. Other signs include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and collapsing.

How long does a bee sting last on a dog? ›

For most dogs, bee stings should improve within 12-24 hours. If new symptoms occur during that time, contact your veterinarian immediately. Some pets require hospitalization and intensive motoring. For dogs who have allergic reactions to bee stings, the next time they are stung may lead to a more severe reaction.

Should I give my dog Benadryl for a bee sting? ›

Benadryl is a safe and effective antihistamine for bee stings. Proper dosing for dogs is 1 mg per pound.

Do all dogs react to bee stings? ›

Just as in people, some dogs are allergic to bee venom and can have a sudden and life threatening reaction to a sting. These usually happen shortly after the sting—within minutes. Pets may have vomiting and diarrhea, seem disoriented and weak, show difficulty breathing, or even collapse.

When should I call the vet for a bee sting? ›

If they are showing no or minor signs and you are monitoring your pet following a bee sting, it is important to watch them very closely over the day to see if the reaction worsens or any concerning swelling takes place and contact a vet clinic if there is any deterioration in their condition.

Is Benadryl safe for dogs? ›

Benadryl is a great medication for use in dogs with mild-to-moderate allergies. Seasonal allergies, food allergies, environmental allergies, and allergic reactions to snake and insect bites all respond to Benadryl in most cases.

Do dogs recover from bee stings? ›

For the most part, dogs will recover from bee stings no problem. However, there is always the risk of an allergic reaction, which is why you need to monitor them to make sure that they're not experiencing such a thing.

How often should I give my dog Benadryl after a bee sting? ›

How Often Should You Give Your Dog Benadryl After a Bee Sting? Give the calculated dose of diphenhydramine (Benadryl) the moment you notice any swelling. Repeat that dose 4 to 6 hours later. Then give every 8 hours, repeating the calculated dose for 2 to 3 days.

How do I know if my dog is allergic to bee stings? ›

While bee stings are usually not dangerous on their own, if your dog is allergic to bees, it can be deadly. The signs will show up right away if your dog is allergic. Some of these signs are severe itching, swelling of the sting area, redness, hives, diarrhea, and even vomiting, collapse and difficulty breathing.

How much Benadryl can I give my dogs? ›

Benadryl Tablets

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the standard dose for Benadryl is 2-4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, or 0.9-1.8 milligrams (mg) of Benadryl per pound. Therefore, a simple and practical dose is 1 mg of Benadryl per pound of your dog's weight, given 2-3 times a day.

What can you use instead of Benadryl for a bee sting? ›

Taking an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or a nonsedating one such as loratadine (Claritin) will help with itching. Take ibuprofen (Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief as needed. Wash the sting site with soap and water and place an antibiotic ointment on the site.

Can you leave a bee sting untreated? ›

If bee stings are left untreated it can cause a life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis. If a person has epinephrine medication, administer an injection immediately. A second injection can be given 5-15 minutes later if the medics haven't arrived and the person's condition hasn't improved.

What happens if you dont treat a bee sting? ›

Pain and other symptoms of a bee sting can worsen if you don't work to get the stinger out quickly after you have been stung. The longer the stinger stays in your skin, the more venom it releases, adding to your pain and swelling. This can also increase the chances of an allergic reaction.

How do you know if a bee sting is serious? ›

Severe allergic reaction

A small percentage of people who are stung by a bee or other insect quickly develop anaphylaxis. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include: Skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin. Difficulty breathing.

Is 25 mg of Benadryl safe for a dog? ›

Benadryl is safe to give your dog for allergies, anxiety, motion sickness, and vaccine side effects. Though a typical Benadryl pill is 25 mg, you should only give your dog 0.9-1.8 mg per pound of weight. Make sure that the Benadryl you're giving your dog only contains diphenhydramine.

How much Benadryl can I give my dog 50lbs? ›

As a general rule of thumb, use 1 milligram per pound of your dog's body weight. For example, a 50-pound dog would be given two 25 milligram tablets. Small dogs under 25 pounds can be given children's liquid Benadryl.

Is dog Benadryl the same as human Benadryl? ›

The same clinical functions Benadryl has in humans is also active in dogs. Keeping pet safety and your vets advice in mind, Benadryl for dogs can work to treat seasonal allergies, food allergies, or skin allergies.

What can I give my dog for bee sting pain? ›

Make a thick paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the sting site. If your dog has multiple stings or bites, a soothing oatmeal bath is the way to go. Minimize swelling. Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 10 minutes to reduce swelling.

How do dogs act after being stung? ›

Dogs who have been stung by bees can experience very mild allergic reactions to very severe anaphylactic reactions. Mild reactions include: Sudden onset of yelping, whining or limping. Licking, chewing, pawing, or scratching at the bite site.

Will 2 Benadryl hurt my dog? ›

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the safe dosage is 2-4 milligrams of medication per kilogram of weight, or 0.9 to 1.8 milligrams per pound. This amount can be administered two to three times daily, depending on your dog's symptoms.

How long does it take for Benadryl to work on a dog? ›

If using Benadryl as a mild sedative for motion sickness or any sort of thunderstorm or travel anxiety, it's best to think ahead so you can plan out when you give it to your doggo. It will usually take 30 minutes for Benadryl to take full effect, and you want your pup calm and anxious-free.

Can too much Benadryl hurt a dog? ›

If you give your dog too much Benadryl, you must be vigilant for signs of an overdose. There are several common symptoms of a Benadryl overdose in dogs. Some of the most common symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, dilated pupils, agitation, seizures, and constipation.

Does Benadryl make dogs sleepy? ›

Almost all symptoms due to medication will be noticeable during the first hour after consuming the substance, so keep an eye on your dog for any changes in behavior. Dogs may also experience a number of more common, less dangerous side effects to Benadryl, like: Sleepiness. Dry mouth.

How much Benadryl can I give my 50 pound dog? ›

Benadryl Dose for Dogs

Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook recommends giving a standard dosage of 25 milligrams for a 25-pound dog two to three times per day. As a general rule of thumb, use 1 milligram per pound of your dog's body weight. For example, a 50-pound dog would be given two 25 milligram tablets.

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