The Importance of Beeing Prepared

Bees and other flying insects of that type are a safety issue for our dogs I had not thought about for many years, until I moved into a house that attracts hornets and yellow jackets like crazy.  Each year we get rid of one or two nests, and the next year they find somewhere new to set up shop.  This means the chances of my dog encountering these flying stingers either outside or even in our house are greatly increased.  Depending on his reaction to getting stung (and how many times he is stung) this can mean a trip to the vet.

As I noticed more and more hornets in our backyard during those warm days before the rain, I happened upon an article in this month’s Whole Dog Journal. This article reiterates how important it is to be aware of bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets alike.  This is not only for dogs’ safety, but our own safety as well.

The article in its entirety is a good read; to look at all The Whole Dog Journal  has to offer or subscribe, you can visit their website.  However, here is a quick summary so you know what to be aware of.

Bees Many 2 OPT

If you find a potential nest:

  • -Leash up your dog and move away from the area
  • -Do not make loud noises or shout; simply calmly leave with your dog

If insects from the nest begin flying out:

  • -Take their warning and leave as quickly as possible
  • -Do not hit at them or try to kill them (this will just provoke them further)

If they begin attacking you and/or your dog:

  • -Your only option is to run
  • – Leash or pick up your dog if they are small and hug them to your chest while you protect your face and run away
  • -Though you can usually outrun them, you may have to run a good distance away before they give up the chase
  • -Running into the wind will help slow down your pursuers
  • -Do not hide in water as swarms may wait for you at the surface for some time
  • -Do not stop running away until you know the swarm is no longer following you

What to look for if your dog gets stung:

  • -Pawing, rubbing, scratching or biting at themselves may indicate they were in fact stung
  • -There may be redness and swelling at the site and it will be painful to the touch
  • -Most common areas include under their bellies or around their noses (though they can be stung any where)
  • -Be sure to check their ears, eyes, mouth and paws too

Signs you might need to take your dog to the vet:

  • -If severe swelling occurs at the sting site
  • -Excessive drooling
  • -Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • -Difficulty breathing
  • -Shivering
  • -Collapse/ Falling unconscious
  • -Pale gums
  • -Hives
  • -Mental Changes

Severity of symptoms will depend on how many times your dog was stung and if your dog is allergic to bee or wasp stings. If you are concerned about your dog, it is recommended to take them to the vet.

Golden Retriever Sick in Bed OPT 1

Most of the time, cases tend to be mild with a little swelling and pain that lasts for just a few days and can be treated at home:

  • -If there is a stinger, scrape it off with something like a credit card (do not use tweezers- they will squeeze more venom into your dog’s system)
  • -Use a cold pack to decrease the inflammation
  • -Continue to monitor your dog to make sure his/her condition doesn’t worsen (if it does, take your dog to the vet)
  • -If your dog was stung in the mouth, offer ice water and wet food as eating dry food may be difficult
  • -If your vet recommends it and provides dosing instructions you can use Benadryl as a precaution


In summary, it is important to be aware of bees and wasps as most dogs do not realize that they should be left alone and may unintentionally stir up a nest through their curiosity.  Just be aware of your surroundings as you begin to do more outdoor activities with your dog.  When necessary, leash your dog up and remove him from a potentially harmful situation.  When in doubt about your dog’s reaction to stings, contact your vet.