Ouch - those insect stings!

Most pets that venture outdoors will encounter insect stings sooner or later. They are just too quizzy to ignore something buzzing around and will usually poke their nose into places they shouldn't!

Most insect stings are once off affairs and these may cause a localised reaction with some swelling. Most often it is somewhere on the head and the swelling may make the animals face look lopsided! It is possible that you will not see any obvious swelling if the pet is stung on the rump for example.

Most often the first thing you will know about the situation is when you look at your pet and decide that the facial symmetry just isn't quite what it should be! This usually means that you will have very little idea of what insect sting you are dealing with and consequently treatment is symptomatic, unless things escalate beyond what one would expect from a normal sting (see "emergency stings" below).

If you are (un)lucky enough to see the action taking place, then identifying the offending insect is always useful. In the case of a bee sting, if the sac with the sting is still attached to the pet, don't squeeze the sac while attempting to remove the sting - you will simply aggravate the situation by injecting more into the animal. Use paper or something similar to brush the sting off the skin.

Symptomatic treatment includes removing the sting if still present, applying an ice pack to the affected area to reduce swelling and using something like calamine lotion to reduce itching. It is always a good idea to phone your vet and describe the situation. The vet may well get you to give the pet an antihistamine, but check the type and dose of the antihistamine before giving it to your pet.

Emergency stings.

Insect stings can become an acute medical emergency. There are usually two possible scenarios for this situation.
1) Your pet is attacked and suffers a multitude of stings in a very short space of time. This can happen with e.g. bees and wasps.
2) Your pet just happens to be hypersensitive to the sting.

In both cases anaphylactic shock may develop. Symptoms may include agitation, vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, seizures and collapse.

This is a life threatening condition and your only course of action is to get to the nearest Veterinary Clinic as fast as possible.


that insect stings are generally no cause for alarm and in many instances can be treated symptomatically.But they can, under certain circumstances, be life threatening. You therefore need to keep an eye on any pet that you know has been stung and act quickly if any unusual clinical symptoms start to develop.