Vets issue urgent warning to pet owners over bee and wasp stings as cases soar

Katie Court
Authored by Katie Court
Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2024 - 12:00

Bees and wasps may seem part and parcel of the warmer seasons, but their stings can prove dangerous for your pets and in some cases, fatal. 

Vets Now has issued an urgent warning to pet owners, revealing it saw over 400 cases of bee and wasp stings between April to August last year.  The UK's leading pet emergency service saw cases of pets being admitted for wasp stings rise by 13%, compared to the same period in 2022, indicating owners need to be more vigilant with emergency cases on the rise. 


Leading vet and Head of Telehealth at Vets Now, Dave Leicester, said -  

"We're seeing hundreds of bee and wasp sting emergency cases during the warmer months and pet owners must understand the risks. A sting in the mouth, on the face, or neck can affect an animal's ability to breathe. This is also true if your pet has swallowed a bee or wasp." 

"Pets may be allergic to the venom and as the summer months approach, dogs and cats will be naturally spending more time outside. Owners need to keep a close watch as allergic reactions don't always develop right away." 

As an allergic reaction isn't always instant, Vets Now advise that owners keep a close watch on their pets for 24 hours after the incident and in immediate cases, seek veterinary treatment.  In some cases, pets may be allergic to the venom and go into anaphylactic shock if they don't receive treatment straight away. Studies show most deaths due to wasp or bee stings are the result of anaphylactic shock. 

In many scenarios, a sting may not require urgent treatment, but vets say it becomes more serious if your pet is stung in the mouth, head, or neck as that can hinder breathing.  

Dave added – "There have also been cases of dogs dying due to the sheer amount of venom injected by multiple bee or wasp stings. Massive envenomation such as that increases the risk of life-threatening swelling or anaphylaxis." 


The key signs of an allergic reaction to watch out for in your pet: 

  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing 

  • Swelling in the mouth or throat 

  • Dizziness or disorientation 

  • Collapse 

  • Seizures 

If your pet has not been stung in a dangerous spot and is not exhibiting signs of allergic reaction, Vets Now has shared some simple steps you can take at home to treat it. 


Restrain your pet 

Your pet may accidentally hurt you by lashing out if you touch a sensitive or painful spot to check a sting. Try and check them over on the floor on a non-slip surface and with someone else who can offer assistance. 


Remove the stinger 

If the pest has left a stinger in the skin, you can easily remove it by scraping a credit card over the infected area. Remember that wasps and hornets don't leave stingers behind. Don't be tempted to use tweezers or your own nails as you could accidentally squeeze more venom into your pet. 



You can offer some relief to the area around the bite by bathing it in cool water. 



Bicarbonate of soda is such a great and natural way to neutralise a bee sting and you probably already have it in your kitchen cupboards. For wasp stings, vinegar is a great remedy. 



Wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a clean towel and apply to the affected area. If that's too cold for your pet, you could try a damp cloth. 


Don't give medication 

You may be tempted to but only give your pet antihistamines if you are told to do so by a vet. 


Look out for reactions 

If your pet suffers an allergic reaction or severe swelling, contact your vet or your nearest emergency vet for advice. 


For more advice and information, or to find your nearest Vets Now emergency service, visit the Vets Now website,

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