Dogs are curious, they chase flying insects, some of which can sting. Multiple stings are dangerous, an insect sting is just painful and irritating for your dog. However, if your dog gets stung several times, or stung inside the mouth or throat, this can be dangerous and requires a trip to the veterinarian.

Bee and wasp stings are poisons. The two most common types of stinging insects are bees and wasps. It’s not the small puncture wound that causes the sting's pain, but the small amount of poison that is injected.

  • A bee’s stinger is barbed and designed to lodge in the skin, killing the bee when the stinger detaches from the body
  • Wasp stingers are not barbed but are more painful, and if provoked these insects can sting multiple times

Most of the time dogs get stung on their faces from investigating a stinging insect too closely. A sting on your dog’s sensitive nose is particularly painful. Some dogs may even get stung on the tongue or inside their mouth or throat if they try to bite or catch an insect. These stings can be dangerous., The subsequent swelling can close your dog’s throat and block his airway.

Watch for allergic reactions. A severe reaction can be caused by a large number of stings or by an allergic reaction. Signs of a reaction include:

  • General weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A large amount of swelling extending away from the sting site


Piriton (NOT Piriteze) is the only over-the-counter antihistamine which might be suitable for your dog but please note that these notes are for guidance only and you must check with your vet whether your dog is able to have Piriton. As with all medication, Piriton has side effects and may have adverse effects on the health of your dog, particularly if your dog already has a medical condition and/or when a dog is already on other medication.

Safe Piriton Dog Dosing

A half tablet per day is usually given to small breeds. For a larger dog, it’s 1 or 2 Piriton tablets daily. Dosage depends on age and weight, but breed may factor in as well. The product comes in liquid form and 5ml is considered a safe dose.

If your dog is having a severe reaction, you need to take the dog to a vet immediately.

A simple sting can be safely left alone. It should be bothersome only temporarily. If a stinger is still present, try to remove it by scraping it with a fingernail or a rigid piece of cardboard. Avoid using tweezers or forceps to remove it unless absolutely necessary as this may force more venom out of the stinger.

Administer a remedy for the pain. Applying a weak mixture of water and baking soda to the affected area will help reduce the pain. You can also wrap ice or an icepack in a towel and apply it to the wound to reduce swelling and pain.

Maintain a watchful eye on your dog. Observe your dog closely after the sting incident to ensure an allergic reaction doesn’t develop. If several days pass and the swelling doesn't go down, notify your veterinarian.

Snake Bites (article originally published by Margot Brothwell, Suffolk)

The purpose of this article is to help owners avoid their dogs being bitten by snakes and to provide some guidance on what to do if a dog does get bitten.

Identification:  Most adders are distinctly marked with a dark zigzag running down the length of the spine and an inverted ‘V’ shape on the neck.  Males are generally white or pale grey with a black zigzag.  Females are pale brown with a darker zigzag.  Some adders can be entirely black and can be mistaken for other species.

The adder is the only venomous snake native to Britain.  Adders have the most highly developed venom injecting mechanism of all snakes but are not aggressive animals.  They will only use their venom as a last means of defence, usually if caught or trodden on.  In humans, the worst effects, with proper treatment, are usually just nausea and drowsiness and severe swelling and bruising in the area of the bite, with death being very rare.

However, adder bites can have more serious consequences for dogs.  The larger breeds of dogs will cope better than the smaller ones.   I know of two dogs in Suffolk which did not survive, one a pug and the other a small sprocker.  The pug did not survive long enough to be carried back to the car and the sprocker’s owner didn’t realise the dog had been bitten and veterinary assistance came too late.  I know of several larger dogs (Huskies and GSDs) which have been bitten and with prompt veterinary attention have made full and quick recoveries.  The danger for larger dogs is if they are unfortunate to be ‘reactors’ and go into anaphylactic shock – just as some people react badly to wasp and bee stings.

I always carry antihistamine [Piriton] with me.  If one of my dogs were to be bitten I would give a tablet immediately and then get veterinary assistance as quickly as possible.  My vet practice treats adder bites by giving an injection of steroid to combat the swelling and advises a course of antihistamine over the following three days.  They do not stock or administer anti-venom as they have found dogs can react to this badly.

I have had three of my dogs bitten by adders and have followed the above procedure through to a successful outcome.  If you are a fair distance from your vehicle and the dog is light enough, I have been told that it may be a good idea to carry your dog, but in any case you should put on a lead and walk steadily.

Dogs are more likely to come across adders in the spring or early summer when the snakes have recently emerged from hibernation and will lie out in open paths and tracks to bathe in the sunshine.  Before they are fully warmed up they are very slow to move away when they feel the vibration of you and your dog approaching.  Dogs spot them and are curious and then go to sniff them.   The adder is not warm enough to be ‘up to speed’ and to disappear and so sees the dog’s approach as a threat and strikes, which is why so many dogs are bitten in the muzzle area.