What to do if Your Pet is Stung by a Bee, Hornet, or Wasp

It’s springtime in the mountains and the bees, hornets, and wasps are buzzing around. Many dogs and cats like to chase and bat at these insects, which can result in a painful sting. Dogs and cats who are uninterested in ‘playing’ with these insects are also often stung, so what do you do if your pet is stung by a bee, hornet, or wasp?

If you suspect your pet has been stung, immediately remove him/her from the area just in case the nest is close by. Next, do a thorough check of your pet’s body, paying special attention to the paws, nose, ears, and inside the mouth. If your pet has been stung inside their mouth, please consider calling your pet’s veterinarian immediately.  A sting to the inside of the mouth can be serious, especially if the tongue is swollen.

Next, remove the stinger. Never use tweezers to remove a stinger, as this can squeeze more venom into the wound. Use something with an edge, like a butter knife, credit card, or even your fingernail, to scrape across the surface of the skin. Apply a cold compress to relieve swelling and itching. An antihistamine and/or other medications can help with allergic reactions, but never give your pet drugs without consulting with your pet’s veterinarian to ensure the safest approach.

Most insect stings are not serious, and can be treated at home, but sometimes they require immediate medical attention, especially in cases of anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is an extreme, often life-threatening allergic reaction.

Early signs of anaphylactic shock:

  • Diarrhea
  • Defecation
  • Swollen muzzle and/or tongue
  • Urination
  • Vomiting
  • Itchiness
  • Hives

The above symptoms can quickly progress to one or more of the following:

  • Weakness
  • Weak pulse
  • Lethargy
  • Cold Limbs
  • Drooling
  • Shallow, rapid and difficult breathing
  • Changes in behavior / mental clarity (over-excitement, depression, etc.)
  • Pale gums and other mucous membranes
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Collapse

Anaphylactic shock can be fatal if not treated immediately. Even in a crisis, it is best to call the animal hospital (828-253-3393) before you leave your house or on your way so that we are expecting you and no time is lost as you arrive.  If you have an over-the-counter antihistamine like Benadryl readily available and your pet is still able to swallow, call to ask us about dosage. If your pet stops breathing, you will need to give artificial respiration and CPR. For instructions on how to correctly administer CPR to your pet, Click Here.