Dogs and Bee Stings

As I trimmed the shrub in front of my house, something stung me hard near my elbow—a yellow jacket. I swooshed it off and continued trimming trying to ignore the pain. Then I noticed another yellow jacket circling me—then another. Where were they coming from? I looked down and saw dozens of them on the vinca groundcover, pouring out of a hole in the ground. I was five feet away when they swarmed me, flying around my head and back, stinging me in multiple areas as I ran towards the garage, yelling at my husband to swat them off me. Several were on my back—out of my reach as they stung me.   The damage – five stings, two on my back, one on my neck and two on my right arm as the pain and swelling took over.

Dog with a swollen muzzle.
Dog with a swollen muzzle.

Feeling a bit light-headed immediately after the attack and being swollen and sore for days, I began to wonder if dogs have reactions to bees and yellow jackets like people do. My dogs run through plants in the yard and in the forest preserve all the time and to my knowledge, they’ve never been stung. My mom even had a beagle that hunted and ate bees; maybe some were yellow jackets, as he patrolled the flowers next to her house. He never seemed to get stung, at least not that she could tell. So I did a little google search and found out dogs are affected by bees and yellow jackets – my dogs have just been lucky.

Dogs are often stung. Some hunt them, thinking they are play things, like my mom’s old beagle. Dogs pretty much have the same reaction as people. They yelp, may roll on the ground, scratch at the affected area (often the face). Multiple stings, especially inside the mouth are more hazardous than a single sting. Some dogs have a very mild swelling and others could have an allergic reaction causing difficulty breathing and feeling weak. This is an emergency, and your dog could die soon if left untreated .

What to do if your dog is stung by a bee or yellow jacket:

  • If you see a stinger – remove it.
  • Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling
  • Give Benadryl
  • If the dog has difficulty breathing or seems weak – take him to the vet.

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