My Dog Ate a Bee and Seems Fine – What Should I Do?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Bees aren’t poisonous, but their venom can trigger an allergic response in some dogs
  • If your pooch is stung in the back of the mouth or shows signs of an allergic reaction, you should seek veterinary treatment.
  • Once a dog has an allergic reaction to bee venom, they’re likely to have a more severe response in the future.

Your dog usually chases flies and snaps them out of the air. But this time she snagged a bee and has been whimpering. Should you be concerned?

Fortunately, unless your pooch has an allergy to bee venom, eating a stinging insect is fairly harmless. Sure,  she’ll have a sore mouth or tongue for a day or so. 

Let’s examine what happens when a dog eats a bee and when it can be a life-threatening condition. We’ll talk about signs of an allergic reaction to bee venom and what may happen to your dog. Then we’ll explain how your vet treats allergic reactions in dogs and how long it will take them to recover.

Let’s get going.

Are Bees Toxic to Dogs?

The good news is that bees aren’t poisonous; they’re venomous. In the stomach, the chemical is harmless because it’s quickly digested. So eating a bee isn’t dangerous for your pooch. 

However, if a bee stings your pup, it will release a small dose of venom that generally causes localized discomfort and possibly some swelling. There are a few situations that require immediate veterinary attention:

  • Your dog is pawing at his mouth and drooling
  • You notice swelling around the face or mouth
  • You already know your dog has allergies to bees
  • Your dog has a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis
  • A bee stings your dog at the back of the tongue or in the throat
  • Your dog suffers multiple stings 

Bees aren’t poisonous, they’re venomous. Eating a bee is usually not dangerous unless your dog gets stung in the throat or back of the mouth or has a severe allergic reaction.

What Should I Do if My Dog Was Stung By a Bee?

If your dog ate a bee and was stung in the process, keep your pooch calm and evaluate the situation. Observe your pooch for swelling in the face and mouth, and be on the watch for signs of an allergic reaction.

Check for signs of a visible stinger. If you can see one, use a credit card or your fingernail to gently scrape it out. Attempting to squeeze or pinch the stinger and pluck it out could force extra venom into the wound. After removing the stinger, you can apply a cold compress to the wound. Place a few ice cubes in a towel and hold the cloth against the area for about 10 minutes. Repeat as necessary.

Call your veterinarian immediately if your dog has any 

  • difficulty breathing 
  • swelling in the throat or back of the mouth
  • Depression or incoordination
  • Anything unusual that could be signs of a severe allergic reaction

If your dog was stung by a bee, start by checking for signs of swelling or an allergic reaction. As long as your pooch isn’t in distress, try to find and remove the stinger by scraping it out. Cold pack the area to relieve pain and swelling.

What You Should Do Immediately If You Suspect Your Dog Has Been Stung By a Bee?

If you suspect your dog was stung by a bee, the first thing you should do is check your dog for signs of swelling in the throat or mouth or of any breathing difficulty. Any time you notice these symptoms, treat it as an emergency and call your vet immediately. Other signs of concern include:

  • Hives and reddened skin
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Lethargy and depression
  • Weakness
  • Disorientation

Otherwise, look for a visible stinger and try to scrape it out. After that, cold pack the area to help relieve pain and swelling. If your veterinarian approves it, you can also give your dog Benadryl(1 mg/lb) to reduce inflammation.

If you suspect a bee stung your dog, check for signs that he is having an allergic reaction. If there’s any difficulty breathing, swelling in the throat and mouth, or other concerning signs, call your vet immediately. Otherwise, try to remove the stinger.

What if My Ate a Lot of Bees But Is Acting Normal?

If your dog made a heyday of eating bees but still seems normal, you may have nothing to worry about.  Simply munching a hive of bees shouldn’t make your pup sick. 

But if lots of bees sting your furbaby, there may be enough collective venom to trigger a strong reaction. Check the face and throat for signs of swelling and keep an eye on your pooch. If you notice any concerning signs in the next few hours, contact your vet immediately.

If your dog ate a lot of bees but seems normal, he may be just fine. However, if the bees stung your pup repeatedly, you should watch him for signs of distress. If you have any concerns in the next several hours, call your veterinarian.

Signs of An Allergic Reaction to Bee Stings

If a bee stings your dog, and he has an allergic reaction, there will be telltale signs that may arise immediately or over the next few hours. Watch for:

  • Redness around the bee sting site
  • Swelling of the face or muzzle area
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Hives and reddened skin
  • Extreme itching
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Lack of coordination
  • Drooling or pawing at the mouth

There are telltale signs if your dog has an allergic reaction to a bee sting. For the next few hours watch for redness and swelling, respiratory distress, digestive upsets, and disorientation or weakness.

What Happens to Dogs When They Are Stung by Bees?

Most dogs that are stung by bees will have local discomfort and possibly a little swelling. But if your dog has bee allergies, he can suffer from anaphylaxis. 

When a bee stings a dog, it injects some venom into the pooch. This triggers a local immune response that causes increased blood flow and inflammation. Usually, the result is local swelling and minor pain. 

For dogs that have an allergic sensitivity to bee venom, the reaction involves the whole body. As the immune cells respond to the foreign protein, there’s a precipitous drop in blood pressure which causes shock. It can be life-threatening

When dogs are stung by bees, it triggers an immune response. For most pups, the reaction will be local and cause some inflammation and pain. Dogs with bee venom sensitivity can have body-wide reactions that are life-threatening.

Why Are Bees Stings Dangerous to Dogs?

Bee stings can be life-threatening if your dog has a sensitivity to the venom. While many canines won’t experience a severe allergic reaction from a single bee sting, they will have some minor discomfort. The problem is you usually don’t know your pooch has an allergy until you see a reaction.

Bee stings can also be problematic in non-allergic dogs if they are attacked by a swarm of bees or suffer a sing in the throat area. In these situations, the reaction to the venom can lead to respiratory distress or other life-threatening conditions.

Bee stings are dangerous if your dog has a sensitivity to venom. They can also be life-threatening when they occur in the throat or when your dog sustains multiple stings.

How Will My Vet Treat Allergic Reactions From Bee Stings?

If your dog is stung by a bee and you see signs of an allergic reaction, call your vet and get him to the clinic immediately. The doctor may instruct you to give your pooch a dose of Benadryl at home to help control the immune response. 

At the office, the doctor will assess your dog’s symptoms. If your pup is having a severe anaphylactic response, he’ll work to stabilize your pooch. This may include giving IV fluids to support blood pressure and inserting a breathing tube to establish an open airway. 

The vet will also remove the stinger from your dog’s body and administer emergency medications, which may include:

  • Epinephrine
  • Antihistamines
  • Corticosteroids
  • Atropine
  • Aminophylline

If the symptoms are less severe, your vet may choose to administer antihistamines and corticosteroids. Then he’ll observe your dog for the next few days.

Dogs that have an allergic reaction to a bee sting should receive veterinary treatment. Mild cases may call for antihistamines and corticosteroids followed by observation. Anaphylactic responses usually require emergency medications, insertion of a breathing tube, and IV fluids.

How Long Will it Take for My Dog to Recover From a Bee Sting Reaction?

When your dog receives treatment for a bee sting reaction, the inflammatory response will usually resolve in a few days. However, once a dog reacts to the venom, he’s more likely to have anaphylaxis with future bee stings. And unfortunately, the symptoms are usually more severe with each exposure.

If you have a dog that’s allergic to bee stings, you should do everything possible to prevent future encounters. Never leave your dog outside unsupervised when bees are active. You can also scan the yard for flowering plants that attract bees or evidence of pollinator activity and steer clear of those areas. 

Additionally, be prepared in case your dog sustains a bee sting. Keep some Benadryl on hand to give to your dog. Your vet may also prescribe an EpiPen or a dose of Epinephrine in case of emergency.

Dogs should recover from a bee sting in a few days after treatment. However, once a dog reacts to a bee sting, they’re prone to have more severe symptoms in the future. Do everything possible to prevent future bee stings and be prepared to take immediate action if your dog is stung.

The Final Woof

If your dog eats a bee, it shouldn’t harm him because the pollinators aren’t poisonous. The problem comes when bees do what bees do to protect themselves. When a bee stings your dog, it causes an immune response. For many pups, there will be local pain and inflammation. But some dogs have a severe allergic response.

When dogs have a severe allergic response known as anaphylaxis, it’s a veterinary emergency. Take your dog to the clinic. The doctor will stabilize your pooch by giving IV fluids, administering medications, and inserting a breathing tube. Dogs that have a severe allergic response should recover in a few days. However, once a dog has an allergic response to vee venom they’re more likely to have worse reactions in the future.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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