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My Dog Ate a Bee-What to do?

You just saw your dog eat a bee and you are about to freak out.  If this describes you, join the club.  Millions of anxious pet owners (including myself) are upset when the health of our furry friends is in peril.  An interaction with a bee can be an emergency for a dog with venom allergies.  However, this is not the norm. In most cases, your dog is going to be just fine.

Why do Dogs Eat Bees?

Funny dog eating a bee image.

Dogs are curious and they love to explore the world.  A flying buzzing insect may just be too tempting to pass by for your inquisitive pooch.

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Dogs do eat bees more often than you may think.  In most cases, the insect is simply swallowed and there is no resulting sting. In this case, there is no reason for worry.

Is it Dangerous for a Dog to Eat Bee?

Bee stings to the tongue, and lips are sure to cause discomfort and some pain.  However, if pooch is not allergic, these symptoms will subside over the next day or so.

Fortunately, some swelling and a goofy looking face is usually the extent of this event. Bee venom is harmless once it is digested.  So, a sting that took place before the final gulp is our concern.

Of course, the biggest fear is that the bee stings your pet inside the mouth -especially at the back of their throat. This can be a dangerous situation so monitor your pet for any signs of distress. If he seems to be having difficulty breathing, it’s time to race to the emergency clinic.

Owner watching dog behavior for signs of allergic bee reaction image.

Watch for any Sign of an Allergic Reaction

Keep a close eye on your pet for a while after the bee incident. Life threatening reactions are unusual but they can happen. If he is going to have a problem, you will likely see symptoms within a short while – up to 24 hours.

Here are some symptoms of severe allergic reactions:

  • Heavy breathing after the sting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy – weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Shock
  • Erratic heart rate or blood pressure

Anaphylactic Shock is a life-threatening event that requires immediate medical attention. Thankfully, this is a rare situation but your pet should be monitored for unusual behavior.

And remember, in addition to allergic reactions, any swelling that results in breathing difficulty requires a quick trip to the veterinarian or animal hospital.  When in doubt, don’t delay reach out to your pet care professional.

Will Your Pet Get Sick?

Most likely your dog will not get sick from ingesting a bee.  Try to remain calm.  This helps your pet stay calm and you will be better able to access his true condition. This can be hard to do if you have a serious fear of bees but it does help your pet.

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Check for any obvious stings.  Pawing at the muzzle, nose or lips can indicate sting pain. If a honey bee has stung your dog, the stinger may still be in the skin.  Any visible bee’s stinger should be scraped out with your finger nail or a credit card.

Redness and swelling is a localized reaction that is not reason for concern as long as breathing is not hampered. If you pet is suffering from a normal bee sting with mild swelling, he should feel fine in 48-72 hours.

If you see a visible sting site, icing the wound can help with pain relief. This can be done by placing a couple of ice cubes in a towel to create an ice pack.  Hold the cool compress to the swollen area for 10 minutes at a time.

Always call your vet before giving any human medication to your dog.  Even safe medications will have different a dosage based on pound of body weight.

However, many pet owners rely on a small amount of Benadryl (or other antihistamines) to ease the pain of dog bee stings.  Your veterinarian will be able to safely advise the proper dose.

Dog looking a honey bee in flight image.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Bees

Keeping pets safe from bees in a common concern for beekeepers.  Having several hives in the backyard with thousands of stinging bees inside can be a big temptation for a nosey pup.

When considering where to place your beehives, take care to choose a spot that is far away from human activity and pets.  Consider fencing to keep dogs away.

Of course you don’t have to be a beekeeper to have insect visitors. Bees and wasps will visit your yard – if you are lucky. It is possible to share this outdoor space with these important pollinators.

There are some steps you can take to keep bees away from your home or at least reduce their numbers. You do not have to resort to killing every one around – we need them. Understand the different types of nests that your pooch may come in contact with.

There is a big safety difference between a honey bee and a yellow jacket. Search your yard for inground nests of wasps. In addition, trapping yellow jacket wasps early in the season may reduce the number of nests.

White dog in flower garden.

Despite your best efforts, all dogs will cross paths with stinging insects at some time. A walk to the park or a potty break outside can result in your dog eating a bee. 

Getting a slight sting is sometimes a blessing in disguise.  It teaches the animal to have a respect for stinging insects and avoid problems later in life.

Being intelligent creatures, most dogs learn that eating bees is not a good idea after the first encounter.  

If your pooch is slow to learn, make an extra effort to keep them away from bee nests.  And do not let them sniff flowers that bees visit on your next garden walk. And, if you find out that your dog ate a bee – don’t panic.

It is a wise idea to keep a sting relief kit on hand for emergencies. You may be stung while getting your dog away from a nest. Of course there are many home remedies for sting pain you can make too.

Once the drama is past, give your pup a kiss and promise to make him some natural beeswax dog paw balm for Christmas. All will be forgiven.