Monday, September 14, 2015

Enjoy the Outdoors without Getting Bit...By Bees

Fall is here, and with that tends to come more camping and outdoor adventures. Spending more time outdoors this fall will expose you and your dog to more natural elements, some of which can pose a serious threat that your dog might be completely oblivious to. 

If your dog is like mine, they like to chase flying objects. There is no regard for the difference between a harmless flying object and one that bites. Even when we had a hive in our backyard (that we were told was not removable) our dog, Maui, got stung pretty regularly because she wouldn’t stop chasing and biting at bees. Unfortunately, dogs don’t seem to know any better.

When walking dogs, I’ve walked by many shrubs that were dancing with pollinating bees.  I have come across hives, in trees and on the ground.  I’ve even been in the park when a hive was swarming.  In each instance, I steer clear and pay attention to any possibly angry bees that might happen upon us.  Why? Because bee stings can cause serious damage if your dog has an allergic reaction. 

Even if your dog only has a minor reaction to 1 bee sting, any dog can have a severe reaction to multiple stings. So what should you do when bees attack?

What to do when bees or wasps attack:
  1. Avoid making loud noises, such as shouting.
  2. Do not disturb the hive/nest, or get close to it.
  3. Take warning if a few bees or wasps come out and dive bomb you. This means leave immediately.
  4. Don’t swat or attempt to kill the bees or wasps, as that will only aggravate them.
  5. Run if bees or wasps come after you (if possible, run into the wind, which will slow the insect down). Make your dog run with you or carry her.  It is possible to outrun bees and wasps, but they are very determined, so you will probably have to run again.
  6. Protect your face. If your dog is in your arms, cuddle him as you run.
  7. Do not attempt to hide from bees and wasps in water. Swarms can hover over and wait for you.  (You can get into water after you are sure the bees or wasps are no longer chasing you. Getting in water would help ensure the insects are off of you and not hiding in your dog’s coat or somewhere on you).
  8. Do not stop running until you are certain the bees or wasps have retreated.

How to know if your dog has been stung:
  1. Your dog may leap up, cry out, run in circles, rub his face, and/or scratch at the sting site.
  2. You will notice swelling at the sting site, which may spread and become more severe depending on the reaction.
If your dog has been stung, the severity of the situation will depend on how many stings, the degree of swelling, and whether your dog has any reactions that might indicate anaphylactic shock (an allergic reaction).
If severe, the symptoms will usually appear right away, in the first 5 minutes, or 30 minutes at the most.

Signs of a severe reaction include:
  1. Excessive salivation (drooling)
  2. Vomiting
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Difficulty breathing
  5. Trembling
  6. Fainting or Collapsing (reactions can sometimes mimic seizures)
  7. Pale gums
  8. Hives
  9. Mental change, such as unresponsiveness, confusion, or abnormal behavior
In severe cases such as these, you should seek immediate veterinary care. If you learn your dog is allergic to bee or wasp stings, you may consider carrying an EpiPen (injectable epinephrine) to counteract anaphylactic shock.  Consult your veterinarian first.

What to do if your dog has been stung (or bitten by another insect):
  1. If there is still a stinger in your dog’s skin, scrape it off (using a credit card or the like). Using tweezers can cause you to squeeze more venom into the skin, so best not to use them.
  2. Use a cold pack to help reduce swelling. Hold the cold pack on for 20 minutes at a time. In a pinch, a cold wash cloth or towel can be soothing enough.
  3. And/or you can make a baking soda paste to help soothe and reduce swelling in the area. Simply add enough water to baking soda to get a paste-like consistency, and apply the paste to the bite or sting site.
  4. Monitor your dog for severe swelling (especially on the head and neck area, as that can be dangerous). Most likely the swelling will stay localized at the bite or sting site, with redness and pain.
  5. Administer Benadryl (diphenhydramine HCI) – as long as you are confident your dog won’t have a reaction to that.
Benadryl/antihistamine:   1 mg per pound of your pet’s body weight
  1. Stings in the mouth may make it difficult and uncomfortable for your dog to eat. In these cases, giving your dog ice water and soft food would be best.(Either wet food or soften her dry food with water.)
Symptoms may be visible for several days.  If they worsen, take your dog to the vet.

Don’t let bees, or other biting insects deter you from enjoying the outdoors.  Just be aware of your surroundings and you and your dog are sure to have a great time.

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