« Stung by bee: help! » | This article discusses what to expect when a cat or a dog is stung by a bee, wasp or hornet.
- This blog is intended as a source of general information for pet owners. It does not constitute specific veterinary advice towards a particular medical case. If you are concerned with a particular aspect of your pet’s health, please, book a video appointment to talk with a qualified veterinarian.
Bees, wasps and hornets
Bees, wasps and hornets are flying insects from the Hymenoptera order. They can be classified into Vespids (i.e.: wasps and hornets) and into Apids ( i.e.: honeybees and killer bees).
One of the characteristics of Vespids is their smooth stinger, as well as their tendency to sting their « victim » multiple times.
This is a reason why they are at the roots of serious problems, which will be developed in the next sections.
Honeybees and killer bees are gathered under the Apids. The killer bee is also referred to as the Africanised or African killer bee.
They exhibit different behaviour, with honeybees being less defensive than killer bees.
Killer bees are reported to travel in swarms and when they feel under attack, they become much more aggressive than their honeybee counterparts. Thus, multiple killer bees can sting at one time.
Apids have a barbed stinger which allow them to sting only once. The stinger remains in the victim and can continue to release the toxin whilst the bee dies.
Pets stung by bee?
What's in the venom of bees, wasps and hornets?
Toxicologists have established that venom of bees, wasps and hornets contain the following substances:
- vasoactive amines
- phospholipase A
- mellitin (only found in Apids)
Symptoms following a sting by bee, wasp or hornet
Generally, there could be 4 different phases following a sting by bees, wasps and hornet:
- The local reaction which takes second to minutes and stops within 24h:
- The regional reaction which affects a larger part of the body (i.e.: an entire leg):
- The anaphylaxis which will occur within minutes:
- trouble breathing
- heart issues
- vocalisation, ataxia, excessive salivation, collapse in cats
- The hypersensitive reaction which is a delayed reaction involving additional symptoms and can take between 3 to 14 days before showing
What to do if a pet is stung by bees?
If a pet is stung by a bee, the first thing to do is to remove the stinger so it can’t keep releasing the venom. Wasps and hornets should also cautiously be removed from the animal’s coat to prevent them from stinging again.
Secondly, since there is no available antidote, there should be a monitoring phase for potential symptoms and/or signs of anaphylaxis; those can develop rather rapidly.
In the event of an anaphylactic reaction, the best thing to do is to take the pet to the closest veterinary hospital to be treated accordingly. The major threat would arise from the pet losing the ability to breathe properly.
Generally, cases of pet stung by bee have a good outcome, unless anaphylaxis or a delayed response is involved. Although, when treatment is provided rapidly, the prognosis is expected to be good.
African killer bees
Here is a short video introducing killer bees in South Africa