What to do if your dog gets stung by a bee

March 23, 2021

Most of the time a bee sting just causes some local swelling and pain, but a wasp or bee sting can also be potentially dangerous for dogs as there is always the risk that they may be allergic.

Ouch! Bee stings are no fun for anyone, including doggos. Sometimes dogs like to test fate by chasing, playing with or eating bees. Most of the time a bee sting just causes some local swelling and pain, but a wasp or bee sting can also be potentially dangerous for dogs as there is always the risk that they may be allergic.

What happens during a bee sting?

Buzz buzz. Your dog was just stung by a bee. It has just injected a small dose of acidic liquid under your dog’s skin, using its stinger as a tiny hypodermic needle. If it was a wasp your dog was stung by, their venom is more alkaline than acidic. This difference will play a role in how you treat the sting.

The reaction to a bee sting ranging from temporary pain and swelling to a severe allergic reaction. The venom in a bee sting contains proteins called histamine, which trigger an immune response. The degree of immune response depends on if your dog is allergic or not. 

Swarm of bees flying in and out of a crack in the wall

Canines are great but they are not always the brightest. Dogs usually get stung in the face or neck as a result of them trying to play with or eat the insect. This can pose a problem if there is extreme swelling in the area of the sting. Too much swelling can interfere with your dog’s ability to breathe properly.

The most aggressive types of stinging insects are vespid wasps, which include yellowjackets and bald faced hornets. It is best to just prevent contact with wasps but we all know that it is not always possible with dogs.

What to do if your dog gets stung

There are different remedies to bee/wasp stings depending on if your dog is allergic or not.

Non-allergic dogs:

If your dog is stung, some pain and local swelling is to be expected. Begin treatment by removing the stinger and treating the affected area. If possible, first determine if the assailant was a bee or a wasp. The goal is to neutralize the venom. For a bee sting, combat the acidic venom by mixing and applying a combination of water and baking soda to the affected area. If the sting is from a wasp, neutralize the alkaline sting with a topical treatment of a weak acid like vinegar. A cold ice pack can also help to reduce pain and swelling.

Short-coated laying down in a field of grass looking up into the sky

Even if your dog has not previously had an allergic reaction from a bee sting, continue to monitor them for signs of distress. Dogs could still have an anaphylactic reaction even if they have not shown symptoms during previous instances. 

Allergic dogs:

If you know that your dog is allergic to bee stings, remember to keep calm. If your dog senses that you are panicking, it will in turn stress them out and result in exacerbation of the reaction.  Get to the veterinarian immediately and keep watch for symptoms like weakness, difficulty breathing and swelling in areas outside of the sting. The veterinarian will likely inject a dose of epinephrine or antihistamine to counteract the reaction.


O'Connor, Rod, and Larry Peck. "Bee sting: The chemistry of an insect venom." Journal of Chemical Education 57, no. 3 (1980): 206.

Noble, S. J., and P. J. Armstrong. "Bee sting envenomation resulting in secondary immune-mediated hemolytic anemia in two dogs." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 214, no. 7 (1999): 1026-7.

Thomas, Emily, Deborah C. Mandell, and Lori S. Waddell. "Survival after anaphylaxis induced by a bumblebee sting in a dog." Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 49, no. 3 (2013): 210-215.

Wysoke, J. M., P. Bland van-den Berg, and C. Marshall. "Bee sting-induced haemolysis, spherocytosis and neural dysfunction in three dogs." Journal of the South African Veterinary Association 61, no. 1 (1990): 29-32.

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