* All Sniffspot articles are reviewed by certified trainers for quality, please see bottom of article for details *
Bee stings are a common injury in active dogs — especially curious puppies and adolescents who might try to chase the insects. Most dogs who get stung by a bee aren’t worse for wear in the long run, but some situations do require immediate medical attention.
Here’s what you need to know to help your dog recover if they get stung!
Dogs usually get stung by bees when they accidentally disturb an individiaul bee or its larger nest (especially if the hive is located in the ground). This can happen in a few main ways:
Bee stings in dogs vary in severity depending on several factors like the number of stings, the location of the stings, your dog's size, and whether your dog has any allergies to bee venom.
While most bee stings cause mild reactions, some dogs may experience more serious consequences. Here are the potential risks associated with bee stings in dogs:
Most dogs will experience localized pain, redness, and swelling at the site of the bee sting. This is a common reaction and is usually not a cause for concern.
Some dogs can have allergic reactions to bee stings. Mild allergic reactions may include more pronounced swelling around the sting site, hives, or itching.
In severe cases, a dog may experience an anaphylactic reaction, which is a potentially life-threatening emergency. Anaphylaxis can cause difficulty breathing, facial swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, collapse, and shock.
In some cases, the sting site can become infected, particularly if your dog scratches or licks the area excessively.
Bee stings in sensitive areas such as the mouth, throat, or eyes can cause additional complications — like swelling that interfers with breathing — not to mention significant discomfort.
If your dog is stung multiple times, it increases the risk of a more severe reaction, especially in smaller dogs or those with underlying health issues.
Dogs learn by association. (We cover their cognition and more in the dog training articles of our blog!) Because of this, some sensitive dogs might become fearful of things they associate with their bee sting — like a specific corner of your yard, a certain toy, or even a nearby smell.
If your pup has recovered physically from being stung but seems to be acting “off” afterward (perhaps showing fearful body language, refusing to play when they usually love games, or otherwise giving you cause for concern) it’s a great idea to get in touch with a certified force free trainer who can work out a plan to help them feel better.
Training might include counter conditioning and desensitization — and it should always happen at your dog’s pace.
f your dog gets stung by a bee, you need to remove the stinger as soon as possible to minimize the amount of venom injected into the skin. Honeybees leave their stingers behind and eventually die — but most other bees, including bumblebees and their cousin the wasp, can sting multiple times.
Here's how you can safely remove a bee stinger from your dog:
Once the stinger is removed, clean the area with mild soap and water to prevent infection. Baking soda pastes and oatmeal baths are popular options to soothe your pup’s irritated skin if they’re having a hard time.
You might consider applying a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the affected area to help reduce swelling. Do not place ice directly on your dog’s skin, as this can cause frost bite.
If your dog has a history of mild allergic reactions to bee stings — or if you notice extreme swelling or hives — you may consider giving them a veterinarian-approved antihistamine. Always consult your vet before administering any medication to your dog.
Keep an eye out for signs of an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, severe swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, or collapse. If you observe any of these symptoms, seek immediate veterinary attention!
If your dog gets stung by a bee, chances are you both feel pretty shaken up afterward. Don’t hesitate to comfort your dog — it’s important they see you as a safe, secure attachment figure who’s there for them in times of need. You can’t reinforce their fear since it’s an emotion, not a behavior, so don’t let any old-school trainer tell you otherwise.
Just be sure to speak calmly, move predictably, and avoid revving your pup up further.
To reduce the risk of bee stings, be cautious during outdoor activities — especially in areas with a lot of bee activity. Keep your dog on a leash, avoid areas with known beehives, and stay away from flowering plants where bees may be feeding.
A strong “leave it” cue can come in handy if your pup likes to chase insects. If they start to fixate on a bee, you’ll be able to let them know to focus on you instead to avoid getting stung.
Sniffspot is a community marketplace that enables anyone to rent land by-the-hour as a safe and private dog park.
Find Sniffspot on your favorite social media