As the weather warms up, you may start to hear more buzzing in the air. Dogs who have never been stung before may not be aware of the danger of bees or wasps, and will often chase them and try to catch them in their mouth. But stings cannot only shock your day, and cause pain (and in some cases a life-threatening reaction) but sometimes causes a lasting psychological effect, or fear of bees. Here are a few tips to keep your pooch safe:
– Check your house and yard in spring/early summer to catch hives while they are still small. Hives may be in the ground (look for small holes in your lawn), on walls or under the eaves of your home or even in bushes. Find these nests early to prevent harm to you or your dog. Some experts recommend using a mixture of soap and water to flush out the nests, but there are other options out there as well. Bottom line: start searching now!
– Carry Benadryl tablets with you, in your car and at your home. This can help save your dog’s life. That being said, always check first with your veterinarian on dosage, especially for small dogs are extremely large dogs.
– If your dog has upset a hive, and your are being chased by a swarm, the only thing you can do is run. Make your dog run with you or pick him up and carry him. Try to protect your face as well as your pup’s. If possible, run into the wind, as this will inhibit the insect’s flight. Finally, do not run into water, as swarms can hover above the water, waiting for you. Do not stop running until you are certain the bees or wasps have retreated.
– If your dog has been stung, they may leap up and cry out. It can be an incredibly frightening experience. He may also rub at his face or eyes or lick his paws, or scratch or bite at the site. If you know or believe your dog has been stung multiple times, you should consider a trip to the vet. Watch carefully for signs of swelling or of anaphylactic shock, most of which will present themselves within the first five minutes (but be sure to observe for up to 30 minutes). Some dogs may be okay with a single sting but may go into shock when stung more than once. If you learn that your dog is allergic to stings, you may need to carry an EpiPen with you.
– For a dog that has been stung but is not showing serious signs of reaction, it is advisable to check the area for a stinger, and scrape the stinger off (a credit card can be used). Pulling the stinger out with tweezers can release more venom. Next, use a cold pack to help soothe the swelling and reduce inflammation. Hold the cold pack on for 20 minutes at a time. And finally, monitor your dog for increased swelling and other symptoms, and take your dog to the vet, if necessary.
For more information, see “Bee Prepared” in the Whole Dog Journal, April 2015 edition.