Beware the Stings of Summer: What to Do If Your Dog Encounters a Bee, Wasp or Hornet

What to Do When Your Dog Gets Stung

Dogs explore the world with their noses, so it’s not unusual for one to be stung on his face or nose. And snapping at a bee can result in a sting inside the mouth or in the throat.

An allergic reaction to a sting in these areas can cause swelling that compresses the trachea, making it difficult or impossible for the dog to breathe. That’s a serious problem for any pooch, of course, but flat-faced Fidos, such as Pugs, Bulldogs or Boston Terriers, are especially vulnerable if their breathing is further compromised. If you know that your dog has been stung on the face and he starts swelling up within a few minutes, seek veterinary help right away.

Otherwise, try to find where your pet was stung. If a bee used him for target practice, maybe on the "bee-hind," the tiny aggressor probably left a souvenir stinger behind. Part your pet’s fur to get a good view and see if you can find it. Using a fingernail, credit card or the dull blade of a butter knife, try to scrape the stinger out. Do this as soon as possible after the sting to reduce the amount of venom that enters the wound.

Avoid using tweezers or any kind of pinching motion. This can release more venom from the stinger’s sac.

Easing Pain and Swelling

After scraping out the stinger, apply a paste of baking soda and water to the area. The alkalinity of the soda helps to relieve the itch. Meat tenderizer mixed with water can also help to break down the irritants in a sting. Over-the-counter products, such as hydrocortisone creams, can have soothing effects as well. In all cases, try to prevent your dog from licking at the area and rinse the skin clean after 15 minutes. (But don't waste time with this if your dog has facial swelling or difficulty breathing.)

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