Dogs and cats are curious and playful creatures, so expect the occasional run-in with stinging insects. In most cases, an insect sting may cause some pain and mild swelling at the site but will not require veterinary treatment. It is advisable, however, to keep a close eye on your pet if you suspect an insect sting, as complications or allergic reactions can occur that could be life threatening.

I think my pet was stung by a bee!

You should suspect your dog or cat may have been stung if he suddenly begins biting at a paw or pawing at her face, mouth, or ears. Dogs may begin whining or holding up a paw that was stung. You may notice swelling in the area that was stung or limping if the sting is in the paw.

Cats are especially vulnerable to facial stings because they tend to sniff at things they are curious about. Pay special attention to their nose, eyes, and ears if you suspect an insect sting.

Act quickly

Your calm reaction is crucial, both to sooth your pet and try to identify the insect that stung him. Bees will leave stingers behind, while spiders inject venom only. Catching the spider will be helpful if your pet requires medical treatment.

In most cases, the following steps will help your pet get through an insect sting:

  • Scrape the stinger out using a stiff card (such as a credit card) being careful not to squeeze the stinger, as that will force more venom into your pet.
  • Bathe the area in cool water and apply ice if your pet will tolerate it.
  • Watch your pet closely for signs of an allergic reaction. Most reactions will occur within 20 minutes of a sting but continue monitoring for several hours in case of a delayed reaction.
  • Do not administer an antihistamine without first consulting your veterinarian for type and dosage.

When stings are dangerous to pets

Sometimes insect stings can cause complications for our pets, especially because of certain habits that are common among dogs and cats.

Dogs are known to chase flying insects and snap at them, making them vulnerable to a sting in the mouth. This can be dangerous if the sting causes swelling that closes the airway. Meanwhile, cats often lead with their nose, putting them in danger of a sting in the eye. Seek immediate treatment for this injury.

Multiple stings can also be dangerous for your dog or cat, and allergic reactions can occur. Contact your veterinarian if you observe any of the following symptoms following an insect sting.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the mouth, throat, eyes, or ears
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dizziness or disorientation
  • Extreme drooling
  • Extreme agitation
  • Seizures

If you have questions about insect stings and your pet, contact the veterinarians at Lake Cable Animal Hospital.