Bee stings can sometimes cause severe allergic shock reactions (anaphylaxis). Fortunately, most of the time bee stings only cause minor swelling and pain. More common than shock, but still relatively uncommon are hive reaction (urticarial) that involve facial swelling, itchiness and raised bumps on the skin.
Most dogs don’t develop an allergy to bee venom and I don’t recommend routine screening for sensitivity but instead rely on symptoms after a bee sting to make a diagnosis. There are blood tests that check for specific immunoglobulins. That can detect sensitivity to bee venom but our local allergy specialist doesn’t believe these tests are reliable. A dermatologist can reliably screen for bee venom allergy by skin testing but this is relatively expensive and there is a risk of an allergic reaction during the test.
Most bee stings don’t need treatment. If your dog gets hives when stung I recommend you give Benadryl at the time of the event and every eight hours until all swelling has resolved. If hives are already present you will need to see a veterinarian immediately for injectable Benadryl and possibly a steroid injection. If you have a very rare dog that reacts to a bee sting with sudden shock (i.e. collapse, difficulty breathing, decreased blood pressure) you should talk to your veterinarian about an Epipen. Epipen can save lives but are extremely dangerous and should only be considered under the direction of a veterinarian that knows your dog very well.
Remember, most bee stings are a minor nuisance. Severe allergic reactions are very rare. So get out there and don’t those bees stop you from having a great day with your canine buddy at the park.
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Regarding the use of Benadryl, it has to be childrens liquid (no alcohol) formula, always speak to a vet first before administering to determine correct dosage etc.
I am not a vet.