Black dog sniffing a flower

What to do if your dog is stung by a bee or wasp

In most cases, an insect sting will cause some mild pain and irritation but will not need any treatment. Occasionally, bee and wasp stings can be more serious.

Signs your dog might have been stung

  • Whining
  • Holding up a paw (if stung on the paw)
  • Biting or nibbling where the sting went in
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Swelling
  • Hives (red, swollen, itchy skin)

What to do if your dog has been stung

  1. Remain calm
  2. Scrape out the sting using a credit card (or any other stiff material) or pull it out below the poison sac, then bathe the area in water. Do not squeeze the sting as this could force more of the poison into your dog’s body.
  3. Applying ice will help to soothe the sting. Make sure the cold temperature is not uncomfortable for your dog.
  4. Closely watch your pet for signs of an allergic reaction

If you choose to give your dog an antihistamine, make sure you’ve checked that the type of medication and the amount is not dangerous to your dog.

Important: Never give antihistamines without contacting your vet first.

When is a bee or wasp sting more dangerous?

Multiple stings to your dog can be fatal and some dogs might have an allergic reaction. Stings in your dog’s mouth can also be dangerous as the swelling can block their airway and stop them from breathing. 

Contact your vet immediately if you’re worried your dog has been stung and it could be dangerous.

Tip: It’s better to get your dog to leave bees and wasps alone. Teaching your dog to come back (recall) will help to protect your dog.

Signs your dog might be having an allergic reaction

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the mouth, throat, eyes or ears
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Collapsing
  • Weakness
  • Drooling 
  • Having a fit

If you notice one or more of the signs of an allergic reaction when your dog has been stung, call your vet immediately.

Should I give my dog antihistamines?

Some human antihistamines are OK for dogs, but others can make them seriously ill and can even be fatal. 

Do not give antihistamines to your dog without first speaking to your vet to check if the specific drug is safe for them and that the quantity is right for the size and weight of your pet.

Other insect stings and bites

As well as bees and wasps, your dog might be bitten by:

  • Ticks – these should be carefully removed
  • Mosquitos
  • Ants
  • Flies

Most are harmless but, if you’re not sure what type of insect has bitten or stung your dog, keep an eye on them to make sure they are not showing any worrying signs.

— Page last updated 21/04/2021

Did you find this helpful?

We provide free pet advice as every pet deserves to be well looked after. We treated around 35,000 sick injured and homeless pets last year. We're so glad we've been able to help these pets who are unable to help themselves, but there are thousands of sick and lonely pets still in need, so we need to ask for a small favour.

All of our work is funded entirely through donations. People like you are essential to our work. If everyone who benefits from our articles is able to give a little back, we can reach thousands more pets. For as little as £1 you can make a difference - do you have one minute? Thank you.