Wasp and Bee Stings in Dogs and Cats
Dogs and cats are often curious. They like to investigate or hunt insects, and therefore run the risk of being stung or bitten. Most dogs and cats can tolerate a wasp or insect sting without concern. In many cases, a single sting can cause signs such as swelling, pain, redness, and itching at the site. Your dog or cat may remain a little sore at the site for a few days before signs resolve. However, in rare cases, dogs and cats may have an allergic or anaphylactic reaction to the sting. If the symptoms are severe, they may need to see their veterinarian.
What to Do if Your Pet is Stung by a Wasp or Bee?
1. Try to remain calm. Most wasp or bee stings do not require emergency treatment.
2. Look closely at the site to see if you can find the stinger in your pet’s skin. Use a magnifying glass and tweezers to remove the stinger if possible.
3. If you’re having difficulty removing the stinger, try gently scraping the skin with a blunt object, such as a credit card.
4. Do not squeeze the area, as this may release more venom into the tissues.
5. If you cannot find the stinger, don’t worry. It’s most likely fallen out on its own.
6. Clean the area with mild soap and water or a dilute chlorhexidine solution.
7. If your pet is in pain, you can cool the skin with an ice cube wrapped in a clean, moist cloth.
8. Prevent the animal from scratching or licking the area and causing further trauma.
When to Contact Your Veterinarian:
- If your pet was stung anywhere on the head, neck, nose, mouth or throat. There may be an increased risk for more severe symptoms.
- Difficulty breathing, swallowing, eating or drinking
- Persistent pain, swelling, itching, or infection at the site of a suspected sting or bite
- If you have any concerns about your pet having a severe allergic reaction
How Will Your Veterinarian Treat Your Pet’s Wasp or Bee Sting?
Your veterinarian will carefully examine your pet to determine the severity of his allergic reaction. Most insect bites and stings can be treated topically with a corticosteroid cream or other pain/anti-inflammatory medication. Oral antihistamines or other medication may be prescribed.
Please note: It’s important to never give your pet any medication without consulting your veterinarian first.
If your pet has had an anaphylactic reaction, more aggressive treatments may be required. Your pet may be hospitalized for monitoring for 2-3 days. While the initial reaction may occur within a few hours of the sting, symptoms can recur or worsen over the next few days.
During this time, your dog or cat may be given medications to help with blood pressure and heart rate. She may also be given steroid and antihistamine injections. Intravenous fluids and oxygen support might be required. And blood and urine tests may be used to assess organ function.
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