Bee stings might be the worst thing about the summer! As creatures full of curiosity, they love to explore outdoors in the warmer months. But what happens if their investigation ends in a bee sting?
Bee stings. Not what you want to associate with your pet! This may be a familiar situation to owners whose dogs or cats are regularly trying to catch insects in their mouth! This can result in lots of bee stings if we are not careful.
Major targets for bee stings are noses, eyes, ears, feet and even the mouth. Bee stings can cause anything from a mild irritation to a life-threatening situation. It is important that owners remain observant and take prompt action should there be any warning signs of a sting.
It is important to note that severe cases are likely to require medical care. If you are concerned in any way, it is always best to call your local vet.
How to recognise bee stings in your pet
It is important to try and identify which insect the sting originated from when dealing with bee stings in pets.
Bee stings are designed to lodge in the skin, killing the bee in the process and leaving its stinger behind. On the other hand, wasp stings are not barbed, can be more painful, and can sting multiple times.
If your pet has been stung by a bee, and you can locate the stinger, gently use the edge of a credit card to scrape the stinger out. Experts warn against using tweezers or fingers, as you run the risk of squeezing more venom into the wound. This can be extremely painful for your furry friend.
Bees can continue to secrete venom into their victims for three minutes after the sting, so it is extremely important to try and remove the stinger if you can.
Your pet is likely to make it known that they have been stung. You may notice crying and slight swelling, redness in the area. They may also begin to paw or chew the affected area.
How to treat bee stings
Bee stings are acidic, and therefore one of the best treatments to use is an alkaline to neutralise the venom. Bathing your pet in a mix of bicarbonate of soda and water can be relieve some of the pain (or mixing them into a thick paste and applying to the wound).
For a wasp sting, which is alkaline, the most effective treatment you can apply at home is vinegar. Lemon juice will also work.
After either of these treatments, apply an ice pack to the affected area to reduce swelling. A cooled towel can also work for larger bites. If your pet has multiple bites over their body, an oatmeal bath will help.
Many websites may recommend giving your cat or dog an antihistamine. However, you should always consult your veterinarian before administering any as some can be fatal.
After treating the affected area, try and stop your pet from bothering the sting. They may continue to lick or scratch the wound which will delay healing. Also ensure your cat or dog has access to fresh water, staying hydrated.
When to take your dog or cat to the vet
Just like humans, some dogs and cats may be allergic to insect stings. For this reason, closely monitor your pet for the next few hours, and take them to the vets immediately if there are any signs of:
- Severe swelling
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive drooling
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
Take your pet to the vets immediately if your pet has been stung in the mouth. The swelling can block their airways and cause a rapid decline in health.
Teaching a solid recall or 'leave it' command will help protect your dog. If an bee or wasp (or any stinging insect!) gets into the house, you should shut your pet in another room until it has been removed. You might find there is a hive in your garden, this should also be safely removed before allowing your pets out to play.
If you are at all concerned for your pet's welfare, call your vet, they will always be the best at advising you how to care for your pet!
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