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Protecting your dog from wasps and bees

As the warmer weather emerges, so do the wasps and bees! The lazy buzzing of these fuzzy insects makes them an irresistible target for our dogs to chase, but our canine buddies can be met with a nasty sting if they were to catch one in their paws or mouth.

In this article you can learn how to safeguard your pet from wasps and bees, the symptoms to look out for, how dangerous the sting can be and how to treat your furry companion when they get stung.

Are wasps more dangerous than bees?

Although bees tend to be less aggressive than wasps, a bee stinger is barbed and can stay lodged in your pet’s skin until it gets removed. It is important to remove the stinger straight away as the sac could still be injecting poisonous venom into your pet for a few minutes even after the dastardly buzzer have flown off.

Wasps can be more aggressive and don’t often need a reason to sting you or your dog! But if they feel threatened, such as being chased around the garden by your pooch, they are a force to be reckoned with. Although a wasp sting holds less venom than a bee, wasps don’t die after they release poison meaning your pet could get stung multiple times (and you in the process!) and you could end up with  a worse outcome than that of a single bee sting.

What happens to my dog when it gets stung?

Just like us humans, dogs experience wasp and bee stings occasionally in the summer months. So, what happens when your poor doggy gets stung? The poison from a wasp or bee sting often triggers a sharp pain and reaction in their skin, with your pet displaying symptoms of skin irritation around the sting area (which should eventually subside).

However, you should keep a close eye on your pet and constantly monitor them as the sting could trigger an allergic reaction which can make matters more serious and require immediate veterinary attention.

Spotting the signs of a wasp or bee sting

Whether you’re relaxing in the garden or walking your pooch in the park, an insect sting can happen anytime, anywhere during this time of year.

Here are some signs to look out for in your dog if they were to get stung:

  • Sudden yelp of pain, combined with possible flight or snapping
  • Restlessness, whining or vocalising more than usual
  • Swelling or redness in the specific area (this may be harder to see in long-haired pets)
  • Nibbling or scratching where they have been stung
  • Drooling
  • You may be able to see the sting still embedded in their skin

In the severe case that the sting has triggered an allergic reaction in your dog, here are some symptoms that they might show:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Showing signs of weakness or collapsing
  • Severe swelling around the mouth or throat
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea

If your pet displays signs of an allergic reaction such as the symptoms listed above, ring your local vet immediately. They can provide the appropriate care for your dog and even prescribe treatments such as painkillers or oxygen support (for any breathing difficulties).

Even without an allergic reaction, your dog could become anxious from the constant irritation and itchiness so they may experience some difficulty breathing.

How to treat a wasp or bee sting in your dog

Treatment will depend on where the sting has occurred, and its severity. If your pet displays no signs of an allergic reaction and is a common skin irritation issue, read some of our tips below for treating an insect sting in your dog.

Treating bee stings

Remember, a bee stinger is barbed, and it can stay lodged in your pet’s skin until it gets removed. If you feel comfortable removing the stinger, use an object with a hard, flat surface to remove it from the skin. Careful you don’t squeeze it, as you could be releasing more venom into their body. Dogs are excitable creatures and for that reason may find it hard to keep still whilst you try to remove the stinger. If they won’t keep still, stop what you are doing and phone your local vet for advice.

Bee stings are acidic, so mix bicarbonate of soda with water and apply this to the injured area if you can, as this may help to ease the irritation in your pet’s skin.

Treating wasp stings

Luckily, wasps don’t leave their stinger anywhere but be careful if they are still buzzing about as they can sting multiple times!

Wasps are alkaline, so they will need an acid to neutralise the venom and remove the pain. Apply some vinegar to the area that has been stung and this should ease the stinging sensation.

How to stop your pet from chasing wasps and bees

Usually, if your pet gets stung once they learn their lesson quickly and shy away from chasing them in the future. But if your dog is intent on hunting them down again, there’s only a couple of actions that you can take to prevent another stinging fiasco.

  • Try and distract them by playing a game or getting out their favourite toy
  • Keep them indoors when it’s really hot and you know wasps and bees will be out during that time of day.

Your dog and these colourful, fuzzy insects occupy the same outdoor space in the summer so it’s hard to avoid them all the time.

Whether you’re treating mild symptoms of skin irritation, trying to stop your dog from chasing them or going to the vets because your dog has experienced an allergic reaction… remember to always stay calm. Dogs are clever creatures and can sense their owner’s mood. Staying calm will help to keep your pooch calm, especially if they are in pain.

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