What Happens If A Dog Eats a Bee? How Dangerous Is It?

What Happens If A Dog Eats a Bee?

Have you discovered that your curious and exploratory dog has eaten a bee, mistaking it for a wayward dog treat?  As a responsible pet parent, know what to expect in symptoms of a bee sting, possible complications, and recovery time!

What Happens If A Dog Eats a Bee? If a dog eats a bee, in most cases, it’s just a lively snack that may tickle a bit on the way down. In some cases, however, eating a bee can lead to a bee sting. This sting can cause problems such as swelling, red bumps, and confusion, and fear in your dog.

In rare cases, your dog can be allergic to bees and may have an anaphylactic reaction to the sting itself. It’s actually fairly common for a dog to eat a bee or some other insect at least once in their lives. From mild to severe, get familiar with what a sting looks like, how your dog can react, and what to do about it!

Is it dangerous for a dog to eat a bee?

All things considered, it is not dangerous for a dog to eat a bee. In many cases, doggos eat a bee without their humans ever being aware of it. Bees are venomous rather than poisonous, meaning that a dog will have no reaction to digesting the bee throughout the day. The bee is, in an of itself, harmless.

The sting is what you may find to be the potentially dangerous part of eating a bee. This is mainly because dogs tend to get stung around the mouth, in the mouth, on the tongue or in the throat as the bee protests its fate. The sting, if it swells up too much, can cause excessive pain or difficulty breathing.

Then there’s the idea that your dog may actually be allergic to bees. In this case, just like in humans, you usually don’t know there’s a problem until he gets stung for the first time. Don’t worry, we’ve got advice on that too!

What to do if your dog eats a bee

Firstly, don’t panic. Doggos are intelligent creatures that are going to pick up on your energy and use that to guide how they, too, should be reacting. If you see your dog has eaten a bee, keep your voice calm and walk over to check him out. From there, here is  a checklist to follow.

Check him over for a possible sting

While petting your pooch and giving him some positive attention, do what you can to check his mouth inside and outside for any signs of either the bee or a potential bee sting. In most cases, a dog will yelp if he has a bee sting.

If he doesn’t appear to have a bee sting and he’s his usual happy-go-lucky self, the odds are in your favour that he will be a-okay. After all, it’s the sting that causes the problem rather than the bee itself, remember?  

If he has yelped and seems in pain, but you can’t find a sting site, it might be in his mouth or even his throat. At this point, you’ll have to be very observant (more on that next), as these are the stings that can often bring the most danger to your doggo. 

Keep a close eye on your pet

Whether you can see the sting or not, and even if you don’t think that your pooch has been stung while eating a bee, you’ll want to keep a particularly close eye on him throughout the day. Since complications aren’t always present at first, make sure you monitor him for 24+ hours just to be absolutely sure. 

Check for signs swelling or redness

If he has a sting site, check for signs of redness and swelling. If it is especially swollen, it made that the stinger is still attached and irritating the wound. You’ll want to learn how to remove it (see the video below) safely and help minimize the pain as well as the healing process.

Keep an eye on the swelling throughout the rest of the day, too. Sometimes swelling can worsen without warning and it may involve you to have to make a late-night trip to the vet. And, on that note…

Be ready to take him in to the vet at a moment’s notice

Just in case your doggo does have some serious swelling (allergic or otherwise), or it turns out that he was stung by a few bees, you’ll want to prepare yourself to head out to the vet at a moment’s notice. It might even be a good idea to call your vet and alert them to what’s going on so that they know to possibly expect you at some point throughout the day. A vet will also be able to tell you over the phone what signs are most serious to watch for, which can help a lot with your nerves. 

Give him a lot of love

While you do want to keep your overall aura calm, don’t be afraid to give your doggo lots of love!  Just like kids — and some adults — getting stung by a bee is scary!  This is especially so because dogs don’t normally understand where the sting comes from, since they don’t see bees as distinct from houseflies (aka sky raisins). Between the pain and the fear that it brings, your dog is going to need a lot of love and comfort for even hours later. He will look to his favorite human for it, so have your arms ready for some snuggling!

What are the symptoms of a bee sting on a dog?

Thankfully, most symptoms of a bee sting on your doggo are easy to watch for throughout the day.

Attention to a certain spot

If you notice that our pooch is licking his foot or his side, or he keeps pawing at his nose or even panting, it’s a sign that he’s feeling pain and he’s trying to tend to it. Focus your attention on whatever that pained spot is and inspect it closely. If he is panting a lot but shows no signs of a sting that you can see, it could possibly be inside his mouth and even on his tongue or in his throat. 

Redness and swelling

Any kind of red spots on his face or body as well as localized or just large swollen sections should also be monitored. Sometimes they’ll show up within 10 minutes of the sting, but sometimes it can take a while to set in, too. 

Restlessness and reluctance to go outside

Since your pooch connects the sting with the world outside his house, he may not entirely want to go out there again while he is still in pain from his sting. This isn’t always present in some pooches. In fact, some are the opposite. They’ll hide in a corner (or the bathtub, or whatever their favorite hiding spot is) and won’t come out no matter how much coaxing and baby talk you do. 

Can my dog experience an anaphylactic reaction from a bee sting?

A dog can have a “mild” allergic reaction to a bee sting, but the most likely reaction for an allergy in your doggo is going to be a severe, or, anaphylactic reaction. 

Dogs can experience an anaphylactic reaction from a bee sting. Just like humans, some dogs could have a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction to bee stings that will require you to, firstly, realize it’s happening, and secondly, get him immediate help.

Picture of a dog that suffered an anaphylactic reaction and is recovering on the veterinarian clinic.

How to recognize anaphylactic shock in a dog

When a human goes into anaphylactic shock, the first sign is normally redness and swelling all over the body. Dogs react differently because they have fur covering their skin, making it appear a little less obvious. 

Excessive swelling around the site of the sting (or face, or mouth)

If you see that the sting is swelling uncontrollably (and very much out of the ordinary) or that there is a lot of swelling around the face or mouth, this could be anaphylactic shock. Inflammation is an immune system response and it could mean swelling around the face and snout even if your doggo got stung on his back or leg. 

Immediate lethargy or clumsiness

If your dog suddenly can’t walk in a straight line or can’t get up off his bed out of the ordinary, he might be feeling dizzy and have a low heart rate, causing him to stumble and stagger around. He may also seem dazed and confused. 

Excessive panting and difficulty breathing

Dogs pant for many reasons, but if his tongue is lolling needlessly or he seems to be wheezing or coughing, it’s another sign to watch for that his airway could be closing or at least becoming smaller. 

If you see any or all of these signs, you’ll want to jump in the car and take your dog to the vet immediately. Just like in humans, these symptoms can be potentially life-threatening and may endanger your dog’s life. If you can, have someone in your household call the vet to let them know so that they will have the steroids and treatment ready when you arrive. Remember to stay calm and use a gentle voice with your doggo, however, as if they pick up on your stress, they’ll get worked up too and it could worsen the reaction. 

Can a bee and its sting kill a dog?

In most circumstances, eating a bee can’t kill a dog. The bee itself is harmless and most stings can be easily treated. However, a dog’s life could be at risk if he has a severe allergic reaction if he gets stung by a series of bees around his face (or in his mouth), or he gets a sting in his mouth or throat that swells and constricts his airway. So, while eating a bee won’t necessarily kill your doggo — phew — you do have to keep a close eye on him to make sure he doesn’t have any complications. 

How long does it take for a dog to recover from a bee sting?

Assuming it’s just a normal bee sting with average swelling, it should be fine and ready to go in 48-72 hours. Once the swelling goes down and the pain fades away, your doggo will be ready to go. You’ll want to keep treating the sting until it clears up completely (more on this later).

One good thing about getting stung is that your pooch will learn his lesson and won’t try to eat a bee again!  That’s one less thing to worry about, right?

How long does it take for a dog to recover from a bee sting allergic reaction?

Since an allergic reaction is an immune response, this can often take a bit longer for your doggo to recover from. In this case, the timing will vary greatly on your dog’s personalized reaction to the bee itself and their particular strength of an allergic reaction.

A vet will often give them a dose of a steroid to help counteract the immune system response. Once this happens, most vets will keep the dog in for observation in case of further reactions (either to the allergen or even to the steroid), and also make sure that his breathing is getting easier, the swelling is going down, and more.

Once the reaction itself is done and your dog can come back home with you, it can sometimes take 3-4 days for the swelling to go down completely, and if he has a rash or some bumps, they can take a bit longer than that. An allergic reaction is always a strong reaction, so it takes a while for your doggo to heal!

How to take care of a dog stung by a bee

Whether it requires a trip to the vet or not, there are some great steps that you can take to help your pooch feel at his best even while the healing process works its magic. 

Give him plenty of cuddle time and calm time

We’ve already mentioned this, but it is important enough in the care regime that we wanted to make sure it was emphasized again!  Since your pooch really doesn’t understand what happened, he’ll most likely be anxious and worried. Keep yourself calm and confident and give him plenty of cuddles and snuggles to reassure him that he’s okay even if you are worried yourself.

Remove the stinger from the wound

If there is a still a stinger in the wound, you’ll want to remove that first. The faster that comes out, the faster that he is going to heal. While it is relatively simple for you to do at home yourself, you can also take him to the vet if you want to make sure that it gets taken out easily and he also gets a quick look over. 

Ice the wound and any swelling

Both the sting wound itself and any other swelling that pooch has should be iced. You can do this with an ice pack in a towel and be careful not to keep it on too long. Ice will ease the pain for your pooch and help the swelling and irritation fade faster

Consider Benadryl

You can safely give a normal (rather than extra strength) of dose to your pooch to help counteract  the bee sting. This is the case if he has an allergic reaction or even if he doesn’t have an allergic reaction. However, before giving him anything, you are going to want to call your vet and double-check. 

Be extra careful about making sure that you get the dosage right, too. Many vets recommend going with a half tablet rather than a full one just to be sure. Also, make sure that you don’t use any other kind of Benadryl than the normal one. Not even the Benadryl Bug Bites version. Just get the normal Benadryl and just the regular dosage.

A note on bee sting severity

One bee sting is bad enough, as is one sting from a wasp or one sting from a hornet, etc. However, if your pooch is unfortunate enough to accidentally stumble upon a nest or even a few and get stung by them, you should always take him to the vet. Any time he has more than one bee sting, he should get checked out by the vet just to make sure that he is doing okay. This is especially so if you know he swallowed a few of them.

As much as you may love your adventuring and curious pooch, sometimes he can get in a little over his head and it may lead to him slurping up a bee. Being prepared will help you know what to watch for and how to best protect your dog in the short- and long-term. 

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Dog Advisory Council

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