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Dog Stung by a Bee on the Paw and Limping: What to Do

If your dog is stung by a bee on its paw and limping after, the first thing to do is remove the stringer. You can then clean the wound, use ice to reduce swelling, give your dog antihistamines as prescribed by a vet, and watch your dog for allergic reactions.  

One minute you’re enjoying a walk with your dog and the next minute your dog is stung by a bee and is limping. What should you do? 

Can you remove the stinger without tweezers on hand? And when should you rush to a vet?

In this article, we answer these questions by looking at the best way to treat bee stings and comparing bee stings with wasp strings. 

How to Help Dogs Stung by A Bee on the Paw 

When a dog has been stung by a bee, it’s vital to remove the stinger quickly. A vet can prescribe antihistamines and you can monitor your dog for allergic reactions.   

It’s natural to panic when your beloved pup suddenly starts limping after being stung by a bee. 

It helps to know what to do, so here are steps you can take if your dog gets stung by a bee: 

  1. Quickly remove the stinger using a bank/gift card or fingernail.
  2. Clean the site of the sting with soap and water.
  3. Soothe the sting. Apply an icepack pack to reduce swelling.
  4. Contact a vet for advice on antihistamines.
  5. Monitor your dog for signs of allergic reaction.
How to Help Dogs Stung by A Bee on the Paw 

How to Remove a Bee Stinger From A Dog’s Paw

Remove bee stingers from a dog’s paw using a card (like a bank card or gift card) or your fingernail to quickly scrap and flick it off. Do not use tweezers as they can squeeze more venom out. 

Time is of the essence when it comes to removing a bee sting. The longer the stinger stays lodged in the skin, the more venom it can release.[1]

The good news is that you don’t have to wait until you get home and have access to tweezers. You can use a bank card or your fingernail to scrape the stinger out and flick it off. 

Tweezers are not recommended. They can squeeze the stinger and push more venom out. The more bee venom in your dog’s system, the more painful and severe the reaction can be.[2]

How to Reduce A Dog’s Pain and Swelling After Stung by A Bee

Reduce your dog’s swelling by applying ice to the sting. After the ice, apply a baking soda and water paste to the sting site to soothe the pain. 

There are two steps to reducing pain and swelling after removing a bee stinger from a dog’s paw 

  1. Apply ice or a cold towel. 
  2. Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the sting site.  

1. Apply Ice 

How to Reduce A Dog’s Pain and Swelling After Stung by A Bee

Applying an ice pack can help reduce swelling. Another solution is to put a hand towel in the freezer for a few minutes and wrap it around your dog’s paw once chilled. [2] 

2. Apply Baking Soda Paste 

We all know to reach for ice to reduce pain and swelling, but did you know that you can use baking soda to help ease the pain and swelling of a bee sting? 

Making a paste with baking soda and water is an alkaline solution that helps neutralize the acidic toxins in the bee sting.[3] 

How to Deal With Allergic Reactions To A Bee Sting  

You can give your dog a vet-approved antihistamine to reduce allergic reactions to the bee sting. Even with antihistamines, keep an eye on your dog for signs of allergic reactions like increased swelling, wheezing, or difficulty breathing. 

Allergic reactions to a bee sting can range from mild to life-threatening. Here are two things you can do to help your dog 

  1. Give your dog a vet-approved antihistamine.
  2. Monitor your dog for an allergic reaction. 

What To Know About Antihistamines 

To minimize the reactions, a vet can advise on the type and dosage of antihistamines you can give your dog.[2] 

Always ask a vet for advice. Although dogs can tolerate some human antihistamines, certain antihistamines can make them ill and lead to death.[4] 

It’s not worth risking.  

A vet can tell you which antihistamines are safe and how much you can give your dog. This is largely based on size and weight. 

Monitor Your Dog For Allergic Reactions 

Keep an eye on your dog for a few hours. Allergic reactions occur within a few minutes to hours later. [5] The type of allergic reaction that can be life-threatening is called anaphylaxis. 

Dog Paw Allergies

What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that occurs when the immune system overreacts to an allergen that can cause a dog to go into shock.[6] 

Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. It can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen, the venom of a bee sting. 

Symptoms of Anaphylaxis in Dogs 

  • Swelling around the head and neck. 
  • Blood pressure drops suddenly. 
  • Airways narrow and constrict breathing.
  • Rapid, weak pulse.
  • Skin rash.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

How To Treat A Dog With Anaphylaxis 

If you suspect your dog is experiencing an anaphylaxis reaction, get your dog to the vet immediately. A vet will administer an epinephrine injection, ensure your dog’s airways are open and give it fluid. 

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated. 

A vet will administer an epinephrine injection, ensure your dog’s airways are open and give your dog fluid.[7] 

The vet can recommend keeping your dog at the veterinary hospital or clinic for 24 hours of observation. 

Related: Why Is My Dog Limping and Licking Its Paw?

Is It Normal for a Dog to Limp After Being Stung by a Bee?

Yes, it is normal for your dog to limp after being stung on its paw by a bee. The pain caused by the stinger releasing venom can cause a dog to limp.

Limping is a natural reaction when a dog punctures its footpad. 

Examine the affected paw and foot pad for signs of injury. If you see a bee stinger, flick it off with a bank card or your fingernail. 

Treat with ice followed by a baking soda and water paste, and give your dog an antihistamine prescribed by a vet. 

While it’s normal for dogs to limp after being stung on the paw by a bee, it’s not normal for a dog’s head and neck to start swelling. It’s also unusual for their breathing to become labored. 

These are symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction and need to be treated by a vet immediately. 

Is It Normal for a Dog to Limp After Being Stung by a Bee

Bee Sting vs. Wasp Sting

The main difference between bee and wasp stings is that bees can only sting once. While wasps can sting numerous times. Both kinds of stings can cause allergic reactions. 

Bee Sting Wasp Sting 
Most bees usually only sting once.Wasps and hornets can sting multiple times. 
Bees leave a stinger behind. Wasps do not leave a stinger behind.
Bee stings have acid toxins.Wasps string has alkaline toxins. 
It can cause anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction).It can cause anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction). 
Bee venom toxins are acidic. Wasp venom toxins are alkaline. 
Use a baking soda paste to neutralize the acidic toxins in a bee sting. Use vinegar to neutralize the alkalinity of wasp stings.

One of the main ways you can tell a bee sting apart from a wasp sting is by the presence of a stinger.  

Bees stingers get stuck in the skin and break off when stinging. It means a bee can only sting once. Wasp stingers remain intact, allowing them to sting multiple times. 

Another difference is that bee stings and wasps stings contain different toxins. Bee stings have acid toxins. Wasps strings have alkaline toxins. [8]  

Different treatments work to soothe the pain of a bee sting vs. a wasp sting.  

An alkaline solution, like baking soda and water paste, helps neutralize the acidic toxins in a bee sting.[3]  The acidity of a vinegar-soaked cotton ball helps neutralize the alkalinity of a wasp sting.[9] 

Both bee and wasp stings can cause allergic reactions. Dogs stung by wasps or bees need monitoring for anaphylaxis. 

Bee Sting vs. Wasp Sting

How Do Dogs Get Stung By Bees?

Dogs most commonly get stung on the paw by bees when walking through flowering areas. Dogs can also get stung on the nose or inside the mouth if they chase and catch bees or encounter bees in their water bowls. 

Dogs can get stung by a bee when walking along a lawn where bees buzz about small flowering weeds in the grass.

Some dogs like to catch flies and sometimes bees. Most dogs learn to tell the difference between a fly and a bee – especially after being stung.

Bees are attracted to water and can fall into dogs’ water bowls. It means dogs can get stung on the nose, lips, or tongue when drinking water. 

How to Prevent Your Dog From Being Stung by a Bee

You can help prevent your dog from being stung by a bee by avoiding walking in areas with abundantly flowering plants. You can also change your dog’s water bowl at least twice a day. 

When going for walks with your dog, stick to paths. Avoid walking in long grass where wild flowers grow or across lawns with flowering weeds. 

Change your dog’s water at least twice a day. Check it whenever you can to ensure that no bee has landed in it. 

When to See A Vet

If your dog has multiple bee stings or symptoms of anaphylaxis like swelling around the head and neck, constricted breathing, and vomiting, you need to get your dog to a vet immediately. 

When To Rush to A Vet

  • If the swelling moves to your dog’s face and neck.  
  • If your dog’s breathing sounds labored. 
  • If your dog starts vomiting or has diarrhea. 

These are all symptoms of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Although rare, treat any symptoms of anaphylaxis as a medical emergency and get your bee-stung pup to the vet. 

About Monique Warner

Monique is an avid dog lover who grew up with dogs, cats, and budgies as pets. She has worked as a pet sitter and dog walker. With her passion for dogs and pets alike, she writes articles with the intention of helping pet owners solve their biggest struggles.

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