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Bee Stings & Pet First Aid

James R. Speiser, DVM, DABVP, CCRT
June 19, 2015

The warmer months bring out stinging insects that our furry friends can have a bad encounter with. Dogs will occasionally chase and snap at bees and wasps, while cats can find these moving objects interesting enough to paw at, catch, or play with. And then this curiosity results in a sting! When our pets get stung, they might need some home remedy or veterinary care depending on the severity of their reaction.

Here are some things you can watch for and do at home if your pet gets stung by a bee:

  • If your pet has been stung and is in a very anxious state, give them a couple of minutes to calm down before trying to help them. Don’t convert a bee sting on your pet into a hospital visit for yourself by getting bitten!
  • If you see your pet get stung by a bee and can see the stinger, pluck it out with a pair of tweezers. Grasp the stinger as close as possible to the skin and slowly pull to remove it. Do this only if your pet is being cooperative and is not trying to bite.
  • You can place a cold compress on the site of the sting to reduce any local reaction and soreness from the sting. Doing this before trying to remove any visible stinger can sometimes make the patient more cooperative since the cold compress will numb the area.
  • Giving Benadryl at a dose of 1mg per pound of body weight may suppress or eliminate any systemic reaction such as hives, local swelling, or difficulty with breathing.
  • If you have done the above steps and your pet starts to exhibit a swollen face, generalized hives on the skin, difficulty breathing, weakness or collapse, take them in for immediate emergency veterinary care.

Most stings do not cause any problem other than the momentary pain of the sting, but when they do, the symptoms will usually be seen within 15-30 minutes. If you see more severe symptoms developing, don’t delay your visit to the veterinarian!


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