A cat watching a bee that might sting.

Pets and Bee Stings: What to Do If Your Dog or Cat Gets Stung

Can you hear it? The sound of bees buzzing in the garden? It’s a classic sound of summer and fall. Unfortunately, the pleasant hum isn’t all buzzing bees bring. These guys pack a painful sting for both pets and their parents.

So, what’s a pet lover like you to do to protect your dog or cat from getting stung?

First, if you can, avoid areas frequently occupied by bees. It’s easiest to enjoy the outdoors without the threat of an angry black and yellow stinging swarm. So, if you have a corner of your yard that’s a bee haven, keep your pets away from it.

However, despite our best efforts, dogs and cats often get stung. Here’s everything you need to know about pets and bee stings.

Symptoms of a Bee Sting in Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats are inquisitive creatures, so there’s always the potential for them to accidentally invade a bee’s personal space. A good indicator that your pet has been stung by a bee is nibbling or licking a specific spot on the body, often accompanied by yelping or crying.

Other common symptoms of a bee sting include:

What to Do if Your Pet Was Stung by a Bee

First, remain calm. Second, see if you can tell where your pet and the bee had their unfortunate encounter.

Honeybees leave their stingers behind, and when they do, they continue releasing venom, so your pet won’t feel relief until you remove it.

According to Dr. Megan Conrad, a veterinarian who provides telehealth via the Hello Ralphie app, “Most bee stings in cats and dogs can be treated at home. You may see some slight swelling, redness, and itching at the site of the sting, and it’s painful for your pet. If it’s on your pet’s paw, they generally will be licking at the paw and limping. If they were stung on the face, you might see pawing at their face. A stinger could be visible as well.”

Is Your Pet Allergic to Bee Stings?

Like people, your pet can have either a mild or severe reaction to a bee sting, they may even be allergic. Dr. Conrad says, “Mild hives or slight facial swelling indicate a mild reaction. A severe reaction can show as vomiting and/or diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, or collapse. If your pet was stung in the mouth, watch to see if it swells, because the swelling could block your pet’s breathing.”

If your pet has any of the following symptoms or their behavior changes considerably, contact your veterinarian immediately.

If your pet has been stung multiple times (which can happen if they’ve gotten into a beehive), go to your vet’s office or the ER right away.

It Seems Mild. Can I Take the Stinger Out of My Cat or Dog?

Yes. In fact, you want to get the stinger out as soon as possible, because it can continue to release venom into your pet. If you see the stinger, use the edge of a credit card to scrape it out. Some people will use tweezers, but you don’t want to squeeze the stinger, since that action could inject more venom into your pet.

Once it’s out, use an ice pack or cool, damp cloth to soothe the area. Dr. Conrad recommends making a paste of baking soda and water and applying it on the site of the wound. Baking soda helps neutralize the acidic venom. Next, try to distract your pet from the sting. You don’t want them to worry it by nibbling or pawing at it. You can also bandage it if needed.

How to Prevent Bee Stings

Ideally, you’ll prevent bee stings by keeping your pets away from areas heavily populated by bees (gardens, for example). Unfortunately, that’s not always possible, so the best method for prevention is preparation. Talk to your vet about creating a bee sting first aid kit and always keep their number on hand in case of emergency.

Here’s to enjoying the outdoors without bee stings!