A bee sting often starts as a small mystery. Your dog might suddenly flinch in pain or yelp for no apparent reason. In some cases, the mystery will be solved quickly. You'll see the bee flying off or laying on the ground. Other times, you may not figure out what happened until later, when the affected area begins to swell, or your pup has a reaction to the bee's venom.
Fortunately, most bee stings are relatively harmless — but there are exceptions. Like humans, some dogs are allergic to bee venom, which could lead to a dangerous, even life-threatening reaction.
Signs that your dog was stung
Yelping or whining
Redness in the affected area
Pawing or biting at the site of the sting
Holding up a paw (for a dog stung by a bee on the paw)
Sudden swelling in the affected area
What you should do if your dog is stung by a bee
If you notice that the stinger is still in your dog's skin, you'll want to carefully remove it by scraping it out with your fingernail or a credit card. Using tweezers is not advised, as you could accidentally squeeze more venom into your dog's system.
Once you've removed the stinger, minimize any swelling by applying an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas) to the site of the sting for about 10 minutes. If your dog was stung in multiple locations, lay a large, cool towel over the affected area instead.
Some people also suggest applying a paste of baking soda and water to the area of the sting. This paste is believed to neutralize the bee's venom and to also reduce inflammation. To create this mixture, stir together a teaspoon or two of water and just enough baking soda to create a paste.
When you should seek medical treatment
If your dog was stung on the nose or mouth area, make sure to keep an eye on your pet for a few hours. An allergic reaction in this area could result in severe swelling that could make it difficult for your pet to swallow or breathe.
The following are other signs that your dog may be having a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting:
Dizziness or disorientation
Drooling (for a dog stung by a bee in the mouth)
If you notice any of these symptoms or your pet has been stung multiple times, you should take her or him immediately to the veterinarian for medical treatment.
An allergic reaction to a bee sting is just one example of an unexpected medical emergency that could cost an owner hundreds of dollars in veterinarian bills. It's also a reminder that having pet insurance is a way to take the "sting" out of the cost of your dog's expensive medical treatments.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.