Protecting pets against bees and other stinging insects
By Dr. Roger Krogstad, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
We will soon encounter the re-emergence of bee, wasp, and hornet populations, as will our pets. A simple outing in the yard may result in an immediately sore foot or rapidly swelling face after a single bee sting.
A few years ago we saw many cases of multiple stings from ground wasps or hornets. Because many of our pets are smaller than we are, even a single sting can inflict a sickening amount of venom, and multiple stings may be fatal.
It is possible for pets to become sensitized to bee stings so a single, seemingly insignificant encounter may cause a severe allergic reaction. Weakness, nausea, increased heart rate, and facial and body swelling may progress rapidly.
Every pet first aid kit should contain an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory dose for immediate use in this event. Ask your veterinarian for their recommendation on a product and dose appropriate for your pet.
We know scientifically that honey bee stingers have a surface that sticks in the skin and is pulled out of the bee with the venom sac still attached and active. These stingers are best scraped off your pet with the edge of a narrow tool like a credit card and never pulled out. Pinching the venom sack can give additional toxins to your pet. Wasps and hornets — in contrast — have smooth stingers and can potentially deliver multiple stings and still survive.
Even despite immediate first aid medications to your pet, multiple stings and swarming may require additional emergency veterinary care with stronger medications and possible hospitalization. It may be a good idea to premedicate your pet before knocking down the hornet nest or opening the garden shed in the spring. You would be way ahead of the game should your pet get stung. I learned my lesson too, so now I take an antihistamine before opening my garden shed.
There is much concern about dwindling populations of honey bees, bumble bees, and other insects necessary for the pollination of our crops. I am not an advocate for mass killing of the stinging co-inhabitants of our planet, but take precautions as necessary for you and your pet’s protection.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.