Bee & Wasp Stings – Rhodes 2 Safety

Bee & Wasp Stings – Rhodes 2 Safety

Bee & Wasp Stings  –  In the summer and early autumn, stings from bees and wasps are an occupational hazard for a dog.  Because they like to roam about investigating the undergrowth and hedgerows whenever they can, I suppose it’s inevitable that they’ll come across the odd sting or two.

Allergic Reaction - Hives
Allergic Reaction – Hives


Maybe you might notice the actual moment when they are stung, or perhaps you might just see the reaction they have to it.  Sometimes there might be a soft swelling on the face, paws or muzzle after rooting about, and if your dog has a short coat, then he might even get some raised blotches on his body too.




Often the bee or wasp may actually be on the ground when your dog passes by resulting in him or her getting stung on the paw or pad if he steps on it.  If this happens, you may not be able to see the stinger or any “injection site”, but you will see how the dog is acting.  Typically, you may hear a help (if they’re as much of a big girl’s blouse as my lot) or perhaps they may be limping.  Often when a dog limps we think they have damaged their joints or bones or may be even their nails but sometimes it can be a bite or a sting causing the problem.  You may see them nibbling at their foot as if it is itchy, rather than actually painful.  This uncomfortable itchy feeling could make them try to scuff or scratch their pad along the surface of the floor to try to scratch the itch, a little like the action of wiping their feet.

Reaction to Wasp Sting
Reaction to Wasp Sting

Whether its wasps or bees, it’s not really a very serious problem for most dogs and is certainly not life threatening unless they either have a severe allergic reaction or are stung on the mouth/throat area.  Either of these situations may cause the windpipe to swell up and make it really difficult to breathe and if the airway swells up too much, it might even cut off the breathing altogether and suffocate the animal, so remember to treat a sting to the mouth or throat as an emergency.

Otherwise, treating stings is really quite straight-forward.  If the dog has been stung by a wasp, there will be no stinger left behind.  In the case of a bee, it likely that you will actually be able to see the entire stinger still stuck in the dog and possibly even still pulsing.  Our goal is to remove the sting from the dog and then neutralise the protein string that makes up the stinging sensation.

Never squeeze the stinger as you remove it. This may inject further painful venom into the dog. Instead, use a sharp edged piece of plastic such as a credit card and scrape the sting off on a diagonal in one swift movement.

If you are unsure as to whether it was a bee or wasp that did the stinging, its important that you do not try to neutralise the venom as if you pick the wrong antidote, you will in fact make the sting even more painful.  In this case, you can bathe the affected areas in cold water or use ice packs for around 15 minutes to reduce the swelling and irritation.
If you DO know which type of sting you are dealing with, then so far as neutralising the sting goes, the best way to help you remember which sting needs which treatment is to pair up the initials as follow:-

Bee Sting = Bicarbonate of soda.

A bee sting is acidic, so you need to use something alkaline to neutralise it’s action and the best thing for the job is Bicarbonate of Soda.

Wasp Sting = Vinegar (well, I reckon 2 V’s look like a W)

A wasp sting is alkaline and so we need to bathe it in a dilute acid solution to neutralise the effect. A good source of dilute acid is vinegar, or you could use lemon juice too. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve resorted to squirting Axl outside a Fish and Chip shop with a bottle of Sarson’s vinegar when he’s been stung!

A cold compress or ice pack will help ease the irritation and, if the dog has been prescribed an antihistamine such as Piriton before, you may use this to help with any discomfort.  Piriton can be re-administered 8 hours later if necessary.  Please DO NOT administer Piriton if it has not been prescribed for your animal previously by a vet.  For some dogs, the active ingredient in the medication can actually be more dangerous than the reaction you are treating and in some cases may prove fatal so please do check with your vet BEFORE you need it, and keep it in your doggy first aid kit if he is happy for you to use it with your dog.



  1. Reply

    Thank u for the tip on what to do when stung by a wasp my dog was stung this morning
    He seems ok very quite but sore on his mouth. Maybe this will learn him as he chases everything that flies trying to catch them all the time. He is a little monkey I have bathed it with vinaigrette. Thank you once again.

    • Reply

      Poor love! Hope he is feeling a bit more comfortable now – I know you say you used vinaigrette, but ordinary vinegar would do just fine 😉

  2. Reply

    My little Hope (chow ) got stung just now going to use your advice . Just soaked hopes foot in vinegar very brief she does not seem to be holding in up so much . Thank you Patricia and of course my little Hope x

    • Reply

      Fantastic Patricia – love it when a plan comes together 😉

      I hope that Hope is feeling a lot more comfortable today – big kisses from the team here xx

  3. Reply

    dog took a nasty reaction to wasp sting, collapsed, laboured breathing, eyes rolling, lost control of bowels, could not get a vet as it was sunday, tried several, my husband gave her the powder out of a benydrl antihistime and she recovered in 5 minutes, what a worry, had checked out your site and was glad of the information

    • Reply

      Oh Margaret what a scary time! In future make sure you have Piriton in your first aid kit and give it as soon as you realise she’s been stung. Please remember to speak to your vet just to make sure he is happy with her to have it and that it wont clash with any other medication or medical history that she has. I hope you NEVER have to deal with it again! So pleased all worked out well xxx

  4. Reply

    Asked for help when my daughters little Jack Russell was bitten by a wasp. Thank you so much. Phoned out of hours vet who told her how much Piriton to give him, and within 20 minutes his breathing has improved. Thank you so much-he means the world to her and she was in a real state.

    • Reply

      Phew! what a worry! So pleased he is well again – when their breathing starts to change its so scary and very VERY real. Well done you for doing just what he needed – Great mamma xxx

  5. Reply

    Thank you so much for this information, my dog Toby was just stung by a wasp on his paw, then tried to eat the evil wasp that stung him!! I’ve checked his mouth and don’t think he has been stung in his mouth but will be keeping a very close eye for the next few days. He’s had piriton before so will give it him now…..just might have to run to the local chippy for vinegar as I don’t have any at home LOL!! Thanks again 😉

    • Reply

      Aw Lucy poor Toby! Im so glad you were able to deal with him and certainly keeping a close eye on him is a good idea. I think you just wanted an excuse to grab some chips 😉 Take care. Kerry

  6. Reply

    Thank goodness for Google. Meg got stung by a wasp last night and woke up this morning to find she couldn’t put her paw down. Panicked at first then used Google! Husband’s away to get some vinegar so can’t thank everyone enough for their help/tips. First time she’s been stung and hope it’s the last!!

    • Reply

      Oh Jean poor Meg! that would be very sore – not surprised the little love didn’t want to put her paw down!

      Hope she’s feeling much more comfortable now – glad to be able to help 🙂

  7. Reply

    How long will the discomfort last? My dog was stung on his paw by a yellow jacket about 24 hours ago and he is still not liking to put weight on it, although we will run on it a but holds it up to walk and stand. I just tried the vinegar thing with him, and me – I was stung an hour ago on my ankle when walking by the same place he was stung – but doesn’t seem to be helping either of us.

    • Reply

      A sting can be really nasty and a couple of days or more isn’t unusual.
      Perhaps you need a stronger acidic solution – you can try lemon juice too. Failing that, the best option is ice and cold compresses to soothe the irritation. If its really bad you can take Piriton, as can your dog, provided that your vet is happy for him to have this medication. It depends on whether he is on any other medication already and what breed of dog he is. Always ask your vet to be on the safe side but Id imagine it will be fine (for you both)

  8. Reply

    My lab has took a pretty bad reaction to the bee or wasp sting. I’ve tried an ice pack and he just eats it and we rung the vet and they said to just leave the swelling to go down its self. He keeps itching it and it’s very sore. I’m going to take the vets advice but was wondering if it is still okay for him to go into the garden and out on walks?

    • Reply

      Sorry Ive only just seen your post and Im HOPING by now she is fine. I would have said she was absolutely fine to go on her walks etc provided the swelling wasn’t causing any difficulty in her breathing. Obviously, anything that makes it difficult for her to breathe is very serious and trying to exercise when your breathing is laboured is even more difficult.

  9. Reply

    My 20 month Cavachon dog has just been stung by a wasp in a delicate area whilst cocking his leg. He is very reluctant for me to investigate but I can see where it is red and swollen. I have managed to wipe the area very briefly with lemon juice on kitchen towel. I think he thinks that I am responsible. Any advice will be welcome.

    • Reply

      You’ve done the right thing. If you know he can take Piriton, then that will help with the irritation and also an ice cube will soothe the area too. Otherwise, there is little else you need to do other than keep an eye on him to make sure he is not having any kind of allergic reaction. If you see he is having any problems with his breathing, please call your vet immediately.

  10. Reply

    How long do you have to keep your dogs paw in vinigar after a wasp sting ? And is it OK if they luck vinigar off?

    • Reply

      I would take a cotton wool ball and soak it in the vinegar then just splosh the vinegar on the sting so it is nicely wet. Once you’ve done that, you don’t need to keep the paw in it – you can reapply it a few times over the first ten minutes or so but that really should be enough. As regards to licking the vinegar, if its just a wee bit, then that would be fine as many people actually use apple cider vinegar as a treatment for many ailments, including digestive problems, so I wouldn’t worry about it at all.

  11. Reply

    our Labrador got stung by a bee last week and his neck is very swollen. we are giving him benadril but how long will the welling in his neck last. would be grateful for your advice in this matter.
    thank ou


    • Reply

      Obviously every reaction is different. Some dogs react very little, others can go into anaphylactic shock if they are stung, so you really can’t say how long a swelling will last … they’re all unique in the way their bodies deal with things. What I would say is to check the area thoroughly in case there is anything left in the sting which is keeping the reaction from calming down. Cold compresses and ice cubes will help to soothe the area but if you are at all worried or it is not going down, then please do see your vet. Any reaction on/around the throat or neck area needs to be watched closely in case it has any impact on the breathing of the dog.

  12. Reply

    Thank you so much for the information. We have a 4 month old frenchi called Lola
    It’s so hot here at the moment 34 degrees she can only go out for toilet breaks until night. So had her out in the garden for a T break and she went all still holding up her paw. I thought that she had heat stroke. Grabbed her and ran cool water to begin washing her down. Her leg was shaking, her heart was pounding. Husband trying to get hold of emergency vet. What a nightmare. After talking to the vet, I came on line and found this information. I think it was a wasp sting as there is no stinger in her paw but it’s swollen but she seems to have recovered enough to play with her best buddy Ozzy. Will keep this information in mind for our fur babies and not so furry babies in future. Best wishes. Margaret

    • Reply

      Hi Margaret, how is Lola doing? Hopefully by now she will be back to her normal self, causing trouble and being a bundle of fun. Im glad our information was useful. Best wishes and good luck with your fabulous Frenchie xxx

  13. Reply

    Ps. I meant to say she can only go for walks at night as its too hot during the day. Heat has gone to my head lol
    Best wishes ,

  14. Reply

    Thanks for the info. My Rhodesian Ridgeback got stung by a bee on her nose while asleep on our deck 4 hrs ago .she suddenly jump and cry .

    • Reply

      Poor love! What a shock that must have been for her. I hope she is feeling better now.

  15. Reply

    My lab/pit Athena got stung by a nets of bees today in our yard. She has bumps all over her body and her poor face is swollen. We have been giving her ibuprofen and cool compress to make her comfortable as possible. I live in a small town we don’t have a emergency vet on hand around. She is definitely sluggish and sad. Any info would be amazing. Thank you in advance

    • Reply

      Im so sorry I have only just seen your message Kaylee .. Ive been out of town. I hope by now she is feeling much better but for future reference I’d check with your vet to ensure she will be allowed to take antihistamine and if so, get those in your first aid kit in case it happens again. Best wishes

  16. Reply

    Thank you very useful advice. My Rhodesian Ridgeback Bella who’s 8 months old constantly trys to capture anything that flys that includes wasps and Bees ,she’s bonkers

  17. Reply

    My 4 year old chiweenie little bear was stung a few hours ago by something on his left lip and now the lip is super swollen and he keeps crying and shaking his head all weird and I’m worried because he won’t let me near it to look and see if there’s a stinger in it. I don’t know what bit or stung him but it’s super swollen the whole lip is and the site of wound is red and has a lighter color in the middle almost looks like a blister but I don’t think it isim not sure I can’t see a stinger but I’m scared for him and I know he is in pain but I’m unsure of what to do because I don’t know what got a hold of his lip or if it was in his mouth he keeps licking inside his mouth as well. We have a lot of bumble bees and yellow jackets and wasps and the other bee one that looks like a bumble bee and so it could a been one of those. What should I do if I don’t know which one stung him?

    • Reply

      Im so sorry Ive only just seen your message and Im hoping by now that your boy is feeling much better. For future reference, as you didnt see the insect responsible, I would use cold compresses or an ice cube in a tissue to soothe the swelling. If the lip is so bad that it is inhibiting his breathing, then you really need to get to a vet as a matter of urgency for an antihistamine and/or steroid to bring the swelling down.

      Once again, apologise for only just seeing your message and I do hope he is improving now x

  18. Reply

    My mini dachshund we think was stung by a bee or a wasp, we can’t see where but he is very swollen and has hives, my question is tho these hives dramatically reduce within the day but as soon as he eats they flare up really bad, he is eating and drinking as normal and is having regular normal toilets, the vet said keep an eye out for vomiting incase it gets worse but this hasn’t happened. Could you help please

    • Reply

      Allergic reactions can come up and down over the course of the next few days. Antihistamines can reduce the reaction but it can flare up again. If he is have flare ups after eating, then one would imagine the wasp sting was just a coincidental incident and perhaps the food is actually the trigger instead. I would try feeding something different and see if the reaction still appears.

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