Protecting Your Pets from Killer Bees
Posted July 16, 2015
Many of us remember our first experience with bees, and it’s
usually not positive. You may have been the curious kid who got a
little too close to the bee hive, or you may have been the innocent
victim who was stung completely by surprise. No matter the
situation, the afternoon was spent running and screaming into the
house looking for help. Although we know better, our pets may think
the humming and buzzing of a bee nest sounds like a good time.
Before Fido sniffs too close to a dangerous hive, here are the
facts you need to know about protecting your pet from killer
Africanized honey bees, or so called “killer bees”, arrived in
the United States during the 1990’s. They appear no different than
the common European honey bee and can only be told apart by an
expert. Although the nick-name suggests a fatal sting, killer bees
are no more harmful than the common honey bee. Killer bees gained
their nick-name from the aggressive way they defend their nests.
The more hostile bees readily protecting the nest, the more likely
a person or pet is to be stung multiple times.
Even though it is common for people to have an allergic or even
deadly reaction to a bee sting, dogs are not as susceptible to
these harmful responses. Dr. James Barr, clinical assistant
professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine &
Biomedical Sciences, explains the common reactions dogs experience
from a bee sting.
“In most cases of pets being stung by a bee, there are not many
side effects other than swelling and pain of the area that was
stung. They can have occasional more significant reactions,
but this is far less common than in people,” he said. “Most of the
bee stings in dogs are on the face and head as they are
investigating the bee when it stings them. Occasionally there are
pets that will try to catch and eat them. A mouth sting could
result in swelling of the throat, but this is an unlikely
occurrence,” Barr adds.
The best way to treat your pet’s bee sting is to prevent it.
Owners should regularly check their property for bee hives and
consult a pest control operator to safely remove it. Hives can be
found in obvious places like trees and shrubs, or in more secluded
places, such as in the ground, an undisturbed flower pot, or even
inside your walls. It is not safe to tease the bees in any way or
try to remove the bee hive on your own. Pets should be kept away
from the area until it is cleared by a professional. “The best
prevention is limiting your dog’s exposure to bees. If you
see them, then keeping the dog away from the area until the hive
can be removed is ideal,” advised Barr.
If your pet happens to be stung by a bee, swelling is the most
important reaction an owner should watch for. According to Barr,
owners should have their pet seen by a veterinarian if the swelling
seems unusually painful or causes trouble breathing. Giving your
pet a bath after the incident to remove any remaining stingers may
be necessary. It is also important to scrape the remaining stingers
from the skin, rather than pulling or tweezing them out. Stingers
can be effectively scraped from the skin with a knife or
Although it is uncommon for pets to have serious reactions to a
bee sting, prevention is still important to protect your pet from
an afternoon of regret. Keeping your property clear of bee hives
will significantly decrease the chance of Fido coming into contact
with a bee, but remember to leave bee-keeping to the
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be
viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for
future topics may be directed to email@example.com.
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