Bee sting hypersensitivity in dogs


Spring is in full swing and that means our friends the bees are in peak activity. For families with dogs known to have severe allergic reactions to bee stings this time of year can be fraught with last minute dashes to the emergency centre and careful management of indoor/outdoor time.

Reactions to bee stings range from:
1) small, local = small area of inflammation around sting
2) large local = quite red, hot, itchy, quite large (many cms) around the sting
3) anaphylaxis –  a severe, potentially fatal, acute systemic allergic reaction (often within 60 seconds to 15 minutes of exposure). It is a true medical emergency.

Bee sting reactions usually escalate with subsequent stings and some dogs that are mildly allergic with the first few stings can later become anaphylactic. Once your dog has had an anaphylactic response they can undergo desensitization injections (as with any allergy) which will make them much less likely to have another anaphylactic response, (but never to zero – no one, even dogs who haven’t reacted before can be considered zero risk to have an anaphylactic reaction).

If your pet has a known anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting or a pattern of escalating reaction to bee sting then Veterinary immunologists recommend have an Epi-pen on hand. Your local veterinarian can teach you how to deliver the injection in an emergency.

Key recommendations:

    • Be familiar with the fastest route to your local veterinary emergency centre (have the phone number on your phone);
    • Be organised and have an epi-pen with you at home and on walks;
    • Be familiar with basic rescue breathing;


  • As the sun sets each day keep your backyard lights off and light a few candles. Citronella candles do not repel bees
  • but the smoke from the candle will keep the bees away.
  • Bees are not attracted to solid white. Dogs with a severe allergy can wear light-weight mesh/cotton white jumpsuits.
  • Try hanging some paper bags from the pergola or trees in the backyards. Bees will avoid the area if they think there is an enemy hive in the
  • area;
  • Spend time outside when the bees are least active: this includes early morning and late evening when the temperatures are lower.




About Dr Kate

Perth vet and proprietor of Kalmpets Animal Behaviour Centre and Dog Day Care, Dr Kate Lindsey completed a first class honours degree in zoology and neuroscience at UWA, followed by a veterinary degree with first class honours, at Murdoch. Since graduating in 2005, Dr Kate has worked as a vet in small animal practices around Perth. As her zoological roots show, she has always had an interest in animal behaviour. Dr Kate successfully completed a post-graduate program in veterinary behaviour medicine and was admitted as a member of The Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists by examination in Animal Behaviour in 2012. She is a qualified veterinarian behaviourist. Dr Kate established Kalmpets in 2012, Western Australia’s only sole focus mobile vet behaviour practice that delivered comprehensive solutions to improve behaviour problems in dogs, cats and pets.

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