Cats, dogs and bee stings – what you need to know

Cats and dogs are naturally inquisitive animals. This has many benefits but can also get them into trouble! A common problem in the spring and summer months is Bee or Wasp stings. Our Head Vet has some advice for Northamptonshire owners of cats and dogs on this topic.


To help you tell the difference between bees, wasps, and hornets, our vet nurses have put together a handy guide for you to download.


Download our Insect Guide


Why do bees sting cats and dogs?

Often in the warmer months we spend more time outdoors and naturally our animals will then spend more time nosing at the flowers. This is typically how cats and dogs get stung as their inquisitive noses disturb the bees and wasps collecting pollen. Trying to catch a buzzing insect can also seem like a fun game...until they get stung!


Signs that your cat or dog has been stung

In most cases, owners will not actually see the stinging occur. Instead, you may see your pet suddenly shaking or pawing at their head or body, or they have a swollen face all of a sudden.


Typical bee and wasp sting symptoms include:

  • Swelling (often around the muzzle where they have been sticking their nose in)

  • Constantly licking either at a specific area or their lips if the sting is inside the mouth

  • Redness around the area where the sting went in

  • Pawing at the area

  • Vocalising more than usual

Severe symptoms could include:

  • Breathing difficulties, especially in brachycephalic breeds if the sting is around the throat area

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea

  • Allergic reaction such as anaphylactic shock (although this would be very rare)

How to treat a bee or wasp sting on a cat or dog

Unless you saw the stinging occur, it will be difficult to tell if your pet was stung by a wasp or a bee. Either way, you can use our first aid tips below.


First, you want to make sure the sting is removed. Our Northampton vet nurses suggest using something flat like a credit card to scrape the sting off your pet’s skin and dispose of it. Avoid using tweezers to pull the sting out as they could squeeze venom into your pet.


Second, if you do know whether it was a bee or a wasp, you could apply the correct substance to soothe the pain;

  • Wasp = vinegar/lemon juice

  • Bee = bicarbonate of soda & water paste

Do you know the difference between a bee and a wasp? Download our Know Your Insects Guide

If you do not know the culprit, or after you have used the above first aid advice, you can then apply a cold pack to the swelling.


When to call a Vet

If you are at all concerned, especially if the swelling is causing further distress to your pet or is likely to affect an airway, you should always ring a Vet for advice. Our The Drive veterinary team are here to help, just give us a call on 01604 478888.


Some pets may need pain medication, which can be prescribed by one of our Vets too.


Northamptonshire pet owners sometimes ask if they can use antihistamines to help with the reaction; these can only be prescribed by the Vet to ensure the correct dosage is given, and because some ingredients could possibly be fatal in some brands.


Just to be safe this season, why not print our Know Your Insect guide and stick it on your fridge to help you spot the differences between bees, wasps, and hornets?


Get our Insect Guide


Remember to share this advice with your pet-loving friends on Facebook!

Cats, dogs and bee stings – what you need to know