What to do if a wasp or bee stings your dog

The dog days of summer are here. I love to go out and hike in the woods, visit parks, and generally stay out during these extra-long days. I have my constant companions, my four dogs, with me on these treks. We enjoy nature and look forward to camping trips and also romp time in the backyard. But, there’s nothing that will break the tranquility of a walk in the woods as a dog yelp. You look over and your pooch is shaking his head, licking his paw, or biting at another spot on his body. Most likely, Spot has just been stung by a bee or wasp.

Stings are just as painful to dogs as they are to us. And, like people, your dogs can have varying degrees of reactions to a bee or wasp sting. You can locate the area stung by a swelling and reddening area. If your dog was stung by a bee, you may be able to see and remove the stinger. Bees can only sting once. A bee’s stinger is translucent and is barbed at the end, so you don’t want to pull on the end. To remove the stinger, use tweezers or even your fingernail to scrape your dog’s skin. Hold your fingernail parallel to the wound and gently move over the skin which will release the stinger. Do not squeeze the stinger, as this may release more venom into the wound and cause more pain. Wasps can sting multiple times and no stinger will remain.

These types of insect stings are normally only a minor irritant for dogs. For mild or moderate reactions to stings, you will notice a swelling of the face, muzzle, nose, or other parts of the body where your pooch was stung. Dogs with severe reactions may have hives, trouble breathing, sudden diarrhea or defecation, pale gums, cold limbs, drooling, and weakness. If you feel your dog is having a severe reaction, take him to a vet immediately.

Some simple remedies are readily found in your home.

When my curious pups have put their noses too close to a bee and have felt the harsh pain of stinger, I use a mild paste of water and baking soda to help ease the pain and irritation of the site. Also, feel free to dab some apple cider vinegar or witch hazel via a cotton ball for the pain and inflammation. Another trick for swelling and itchiness is to give Spot some Benadryl. Follow your vet’s recommendations for dosage.

Since dogs are curious creatures and often stick their noses where they do not belong, it may be difficult to keep your pup safe from stinging insects forever. However, a few precautions may be necessary. Check the eaves of your house and have any wasp nests removed. Try to keep a healthy distance between your garden or flowers from where your dog often plays or naps. Purchase or make some wasps or yellow jacket traps to keep these pesky visitors to a minimum. Not only will your best friend be safer from stings, but you and your family will as well this summer.

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