Allergies in dogs are relatively common, with a small but significant percentage of the canine community prone to sensitivities to something or other-whether that be a food ingredient, a common environmental substance, or even grass or pollen. Such allergies can range from so minor that they will not display any symptoms through to acute and potentially dangerous-but few allergies cause a sudden acute and potentially life-threatening reaction in dogs when exposed to them.
One of the exceptions to this however is bee stings, and some dogs are allergic to bee stings much as some people are. For such dogs, the symptoms will be much more serious than the localised pain and swelling that accompanies a bee sting on dogs or people that are not sensitive to them, and can pose a real potential threat to your dog’s life.
Generally, the only way you will find out if your dog is allergic to bee stings is if they get stung and go through a bad reaction to the sting that requires veterinary treatment, but this is no help to you if your dog gets stung for the first time and reacts badly!
Whether you are already aware that your dog is allergic to bee stings or if your dog has never been stung and so, you are not sure, it is wise for all dog owners to learn the basics of what a bee sting allergy can look like in your dog, and how to proceed if a problem arises.
In this article, we will look at bee sting allergies in dogs in more detail, including the symptoms that a serious allergic reaction can cause, and what to do if your dog has been stung. Read on to learn more.
Bees are much less common in the UK today than they were a few decades ago, so much so that concerted conservation efforts are being made to protect the remaining bee population and bring their numbers back up.
Bees are large, slow-flying insects that tend to hover around and that may inadvertently annoy your dog by their presence, and a common means by which dogs get stung by bees is by snapping at them and receiving a sting to the face or the inside of their mouth.
This is likely to lead to pain and swelling in the area in question regardless of the dog’s allergy status, but if the pain and swelling is acute and severe, it may potentially affect your dog’s ability to breathe properly, which is a serious problem.
However, not all bees have a sting that produces venom, and so it is entirely possible that a dog that has previously eaten a bee and been fine will pick the wrong target another time, and face off with a bee that can and will sting them.
Dogs are much more likely to be stung on the face or in or around the mouth than they are on any other area of their body, because bees do not go out of their way to sting dogs or people!
A dog that has been stung is likely to yelp or cry in surprise and pain, and they may also frantically scratch or paw at their face or rub their head onto things to try to ease the pain. Swelling usually follows quickly afterwards, and it is the degree of this swelling that will indicate how much of a problem the sting is likely to be.
The swelling may potentially grow to such an extent that it will compromise the dog’s ability to breathe by constricting the respiratory tract, throat and/or nose, which will mean that your dog cannot get enough oxygen. This is a serious reaction that will require prompt veterinary attention.
If you spot the sting happening or can still see the sting and venom sack on your dog’s skin, you may be able to intervene promptly to remove the venom sack before it is injected into the skin. However, this will not always be successful because the dog is apt to immediately try to paw at their face, which usually serves to crush the venom sack and inject it into the skin.
If you can get to the stinger, do not try to pinch or squeeze it, but use a flat surface such as the edge of a credit card to scrape it off the sting with the venom sack still intact. Keep an eye on your dog for a few hours afterwards, just in case any venom has entered the system regardless.
Mild reactions to stings that remain localised and do not affect your dog’s breathing will usually ease after a couple of hours-although you may want to speak to your vet about giving your dog an antihistamine or using a topical treatment to ease their symptoms.
If your dog’s reactions to the sting is acute, it may involve significant localised swelling, breathing difficulties such as hyperventilating or not being able to get enough oxygen, and other serious problems such as potential seizures, loss of consciousness and fainting. This requires an emergency trip to your vet, who will likely administer a medication such as adrenaline to help to reverse the body’s responses and the reaction it has to the sting.
Your vet may also prescribe a supply of antihistamines, adrenaline or another medication to keep on standby in case your dog gets stung again in the future.