Bee Stings and Insect Bites: First Aid

December 31, 1994 (published) | March 10, 2017 (revised)
Photo of honeybee courtesy of Natalie Rowe

Any insect or spider can cause problems if they bite or sting your pet. A bite or sting can cause swelling, redness, and itching. Some animals can have an allergic reaction to a sting or bite that may result in mild hives, facial swelling, vomiting, difficulty breathing or even collapse.

What to Do:

  • If the stinger can be found, scrape it out with a credit card or other stiff material. Alternatively, use tweezers by grasping the stinger, which is located below the venom sac. Studies have shown that speed is of the essence in removing the stinger. If the only way is to pinch it and remove it, then do so. You'll do more good than harm and you'll get the stinger out faster. Don't worry about squeezing more venom into the area - this has been disproven.     
  • Apply cool compresses to the area.  
  • To help neutralize some of the acidic venom, apply a paste mixture of baking soda and water to the sting area. 
  • Your pet should be examined immediately by a veterinarian if there is facial swelling, breathing difficulty or collapse.

What NOT to Do:

  • Do not administer any medications without first contacting your veterinarian or a veterinary emergency hospital. The veterinarian may need to examine your pet before recommending medications.

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