Until they get stung, our dogs and cats can see chasing wasps and bees as great entertainment! However, when your pet is stung by a bee, be sure to know what to do. Here's our guide to recognising and treating an insect sting.
Some pets may have an allergic reaction. It’s important to monitor your pet for 24 hours after a sting and contact your vet immediately if you see any signs of sickness, disorientation or breathing problems as they could be experiencing anaphylactic shock and may need medical attention.
Where has your pet been stung?
If your pet is stung by a wasp or bee in the mouth, throat, tongue or neck may inhibit breathing and is potentially much more of a problem than a sting on the feet, legs or body, which usually only provides mild pain and irritation depending on the size and weight of your cat.
Bees vs Wasps
Bees only sting as a last resort if they feel threatened. If you know there are bees nearby or your dog or cat is trying to catch, swipe or play with the bee, it’s best to try and distract or remove your pet before they get stung.
Sadly, once a honey bee stings you or your pet, its stinger will be lodged in the skin causing fatal damage to their abdomen. If your cat is stung by a wasp, it can be stung multiple times as wasps do not leave their stingers behind.
If your pet has been stung by a bee, tweezers are not recommended as a way of removing the stinger as this can squeeze venom further into your pet. Instead, use a piece of card to gently scrape the stinger out. Wasps can sting repeatedly so don’t let your pet stay in the area they were stung.
Wasps and other bee species don’t leave the stinger behind. However, bee sting venom is acidic and wasp sting venom is alkaline so home-made treatments to ease the pain and swelling are different. For bees, use a mixture of water and bicarbonate of soda on the sting, followed by an ice pack to reduce swelling. For wasps use vinegar or lemon juice followed by an ice pack.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these home-made remedies is debatable, the most reliable treatments will be available from your vet, especially if your pet is having difficulty breathing or showing signs of an allergic reaction.
Your vet can administer an injectable steroid or anti histamine medication to provide immediate relief (usually within about 30 minutes) and reduce the swelling. Later this might be followed up with further tableted treatment, if deemed necessary.
Interested in bees?
Check out Bee Life
an interesting website with a hive of information on the different types of bees in the UK.