All dogs are curious and just love to run and chase things…including insects! Most of the time, bee and wasp stings will only cause minor pain and irritation for your dog. If your dog is stung several times though, or is stung inside their mouth and throat, it can be dangerous and will require a trip to the vet. It’s not the small puncture wound that causes the pain of a sting but the small amount of poison that is injected.
Which sting? A bee’s sting is barbed and designed to lodge in the skin, killing the bee when it detaches from the body and leaving the sting be-hind. Wasp stings are not barbed but are more painful, and if provoked these insects can sting multiple times.
Most of the time dogs are stung on their faces after investigating a stinging insect too closely. Stings on your dog’s sensitive nose are particularly painful. Some dogs may even get stung on the tongue or inside their mouth or throat if they try to bite or catch an insect. These stings can be dangerous because of the swelling they cause which can close your dog’s throat and block the airway.
A severe reaction can be caused by a large number of stings or if the dog has an allergic response to the chemicals in the sting. Signs of a severe reaction include general weakness, difficulty breathing, and a large amount of swelling extending away from the sting site. Watch out for swelling around the neck, throat and head. If your dog is having a severe reaction, you should quickly take them to a vet.
A simple sting can be safely left alone and shouldn’t really bother the dog for long. If the sting is still present, try to remove it by scraping with a fingernail or a rigid piece of card. Avoid using tweezers or forceps to remove it unless absolutely necessary because this may squeeze more venom out of the sting. Applying a weak mixture of water and baking soda to the affected area will help reduce the pain. You can also wrap ice or an icepack in a towel and apply that to the wound to reduce swelling and ease any pain. Keep an eye on your dog after they have been stung to make sure they don’t develop an allergic reaction. If, after several days, the swelling still persists, call your vet.