Summer is a great time for picnics, pool parties, pretty flowers, and .. bees! Wasps, hornets, bees, are out in force in warmer weather, and dogs are often curious enough to get a little too close. If your dog reacts to bee stings, you will likely notice swelling around the eyes and muzzle, and possibly hives over the entire body. The medical term for generalized raised welts or hives is urticaria.
If the welts are increasing and an oral dose of diphenhydramine (generic for Benadryl), at approximately 1 mg/lb. body weight, doesn’t cause the process to reverse within 10 minutes, I would suggest you bring your pet to a veterinary hospital. Once there, your pet will likely receive a diphenhydramine injection and a steroid injection to arrest the reaction and that will usually reverse the process more quickly.
The risk is that if left unchecked, a pet’s airway could become obstructed and this would be life threatening. Or less dangerous but still problematic, the pet could become uncontrollably itchy and uncomfortable. That is what happened to Zoe the other day at 5pm. Luckily her owners live close enough to rush her in, and within 15 minutes after her shots, as she waited in the waiting area, you could see her swelling subside. We looked for a stinger, which you can sometimes find near the area of greatest swelling, but did not find it.
Zoe will need to take an antihistamine regularly for a few days. We suggested 50 mg diphenhydramine every 8 hours for the first day, then every 12 hours for 48 hours. Some pets have stronger reactions and need to be treated longer, and at times with more than just an antihistamine. Each case is different. If you notice your pet’s face looks swollen, you may not be imagining it. Enjoy the summer and keep an antihistamine on hand just in case!