What if my pet gets stung?

Me and the dog: handsome but dumb.

Calgary has a dry climate. After it rains, some of our bees celebrate by sucking cedar water from our deck. I’m not sure what the attraction is, but a few bees always sit on the wet deck and lap up whatever it is they are finding attractive. Maybe there are salts and minerals leaching from our year-old deck. Bees, as you know, need minerals. Some beekeepers, keeping colonies in monoculture areas, supplement their bees’ diets with mineral and vitamin supplements. I’m not sure that’s legal, but try to stop a beekeeper who thinks she is helping her bees.

Our colonies are sitting amid a diverse ecological landscape with quite a variety of pollen nearby, so I’m not sure why the bees would be collecting mineralized/salty water, but a dozen or so drop by and mop our deck. Of course, it could be that the only attraction is water – bees use water for cooling and for baking beebread. However, even though there is water everywhere after a rain, the only bees that I see gathering water are on our deck. (It’s possible that I simply don’t see bees that are in the grass or on nearby rocks.)

I don’t mind. There aren’t many.  If there were hundreds, I’d try to figure out how to evict the bees.  However, I have a minor concern for our dog. He’s a handsome yearling, smart when he wants to be, but sometimes dumb as a stick. He tries to sniff the bees. I’ve also caught him trying to pick one up with his teeth. He is yet to be stung, but it seems inevitable.

Close encounter with a honey bee.

I’ve asked beekeeper friends who tell me that pets can have similar reactions as humans, ranging from benign, but painful, learning experiences to severe systemic reactions.  It’s the latter that I worry about, of course. If he only gets a big swollen face, we can feed him with a syringe for a couple of days. But if it’s a serious reaction, do we give the little fellow antihistamines and a stab from the epipen?

I’ve checked a couple of vet websites. The information is surprisingly familiar – try to remove the stinger to stop the injection of venom, monitor the amount of swelling, call a vet.  All of that’s the same as I would do for a toddler, including calling a vet. If breathing becomes impaired, Benadryl is recommended (our dog is mostly fluff so the dose would be really small). I saw no mention of epinephrine, but I think I would steer clear of that, unless it looked like our puppy was about to cross the River Styx. I’d like to hear from readers – has your pet been stung? Have you trained your animals to avoid sniffing venomous insects? Do you have any suggestions that might reduce the risk of stings?

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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10 Responses to What if my pet gets stung?

  1. susan rudnicki says:

    Interesting you write of this now! Recently, my pet duck, Katchka, was stung on the eye. My same hives have been in the garden for 7 years with chickens, ducks, goose, bunnies and never a issue. I took him to the vet, as I suspected a sting—it was embedded in his “third eyelid” or the nictitating membrane. He was very unhappy, rubbing his head on his body and quite swollen. Doc removed the remaining stinger and gave us NSAID drops and antibiotic drops. It has been 10 days, but the eye is still watering and not fully healed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Too bad about Katchka. Hope she heals completely. By the way, kachka is a Slavic word for duck (as you likely know) – why did you choose it?


      • susan rudnicki says:

        Yes, my husband’s family is Polish. I asked them the word for duck when I got Katchka as a abandoned baby—in the fountain at the Botanical Garden, all alone!–I liked the word.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. valbjerke says:

    I have two large dogs….one enough of a dunce it took two separate on different days jolts from the electric fence around my hive to learn that maybe he should stay clear of the area. It wouldn’t surprise me if he decided to try and eat a bee – I’ve had other dogs do so. I would go for the Benadryl- should there be enough of a reaction to warrant it (and assuming I could catch him and get the stuff down his gullet 😄). Dogs I’ve had in the past that have gotten stung, have had no reaction at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Thanks. That’s encouraging!


    • So this comment will work for both your bees Ron and electric fences Val… Does your dog know the meaning of “(Pup’s name) no! HOT!” yet? Works like a charm; )

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ron Miksha says:

        Thanks for commenting.
        Yes, our dog understands “No!” and usually obeys. The problem is that I let him go out on the deck unleashed and alone for exercise and play. That gives him a chance to do what he wants, unsupervised. He also knows not to rip apart pillows and shoes, and always stops when caught, but he can’t stop himself if he’s alone with either of them. So, even if he knows to leave the bees alone, he can’t be trusted to remember on his own.
        Fortunately, bees on the deck are a rare event (because rain is rare here) so I don’t have to worry when it’s dry.


  3. hulagon says:

    Our 90lb dog was stung shortly after we got our hive. Was stung under the eye. I pulled the stinger, gave him an antihistamine (had aerius on hand), he was fine. I am a vet, by the way, so didn’t call one in. I have since found him with his nose right at the hive opening…no further consequences.

    On Sun, Jun 17, 2018, 6:05 PM Bad Beekeeping Blog wrote:

    > Ron Miksha posted: ” Calgary has a dry climate. After it rains, some of > our bees celebrate by sucking cedar water from our deck. I’m not sure what > the attraction is, but a few bees always sit on the wet deck and lap up > whatever it is they are finding attractive. Maybe there” >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. joel says:

    My 14 years old Westie got stung last week , poor guy was really in bad shape ,could no longer climb the stairs we were going to take Him to the vet to run some blood test few Hundred dollars , then this morning ran in the back yard like it before , Chasing the possum and raccoon ….

    Liked by 1 person

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