What do dog walkers carry for bee stings?

What do dog walkers carry for bee stings?

Every prepared dog walker will have a small first aid kit on them to help them deal with any minor emergencies before getting the dog to a veterinarian if needed.

But What do dog walkers carry for bee stings? What are the differences between a bee and a wasp sting and how is the recommended first aid treatment different? 

TLDR: Bicarbonate of soda is recommended for bee stings as it can neutralize the acidic venom and reduce pain and swelling, while vinegar is recommended for wasp stings, as it can neutralize the alkaline venom.

Acid or Alkaline? How to treat a dog who has been stung.

When a bee stings it injects an acidic venom into the site producing sharp pain and later swelling and redness of the area.

Because bee venom is acidic it can be neutralised using an alkaline substance and doing so will reduce the pain and subsequent swelling.

Because bee stings are often left in the sting site be sure to have a look before applying any remedies.

If you can see the stinger use your fingernail or something flat to scrape it backwards out of the sting site.

Bee stingers have the venom in a bulb at the end so attempting to tweezer it out or using your fingers to pull it will result in further venom being injected so this is why the recommendation is to scrape it out.


Commonly, bicarb of soda, found in most supermarkets, mixed with a little water to make a paste and applied to the sting site will help.

A teaspoon or so wrapped in clingfilm and added to your first aid kit will do, and this can be mixed with any water you have with you.

Just a few drops will do, mixed with your fingers and gently rubbed onto the sting site.

Bicarb of soda is perfectly safe if licked off by the dog but the longer it stays in place the more it helps.

In the UK, baking soda is NOT the same as bicarb of soda. However, baking soda does contain bicarb of soda so it can still be used to relieve a bee sting but you might need more of it for the same effect.

When a wasp stings it injects an alkaline based venom which can be neutralised with an acidic substance.


Wasps do not leave a stinger and are capable of coming back to sting you over and over. But before you judge them too harshly, wasps are nature’s pest control and without them, we’d be overrun with spiders.

Vinegar is suitable for this and small, individual packets of vinegar seen in cafes are perfect for popping into your first aid kit. Lemon juice is also good if vinegar is unavailable.

Just pour over the sting site to relieve the pain and reduce the swelling, or use a cotton ball to pour the vinegar on and hold it against the wasp’s sting site for a few minutes. 

Vinegar will be unpleasant for the dog to lick but it won’t do them any harm.

When attempting any form of first aid, always ensure your own safety first. Some dogs, when in pain, may become aggressive.

With a bee or wasp sting, the pain subsides eventually even without treatment so you may wish to weigh up the risks and benefits of the situation before you act.

Was it a bee or a wasp?

So how can you tell if it was a bee or a wasp in order to treat the sting correctly?

We know that bees leave their stinger behind but they don’t do this every time, so although seeing a stinger can confirm it was a bee, the absence of a stinger does NOT confirm it was a wasp. The bee sting might have already fallen out.

Did you see the dog being stung? Bees tend to be fuzzy, whereas wasps are smooth and their legs dangle when they fly.

If you didn’t see the dog being stung, have a look around and see if you can see other bees or wasps flying to give you a clue about what it may have been.

If you cannot be certain about what stung the dog then avoid using anything other than water to cool the sting site, ice if it’s available and try to keep the dog, and yourself calm.

Dogs can react quite dramatically when stung and it’s easy to believe that something far more serious has happened. On the occasions where I have walked a dog who has been stung, they’ve recovered quickly and are running around normally just minutes later.

What else could it have been?


Hornets are fairly rare in the UK and less aggressive than wasps but they can bite or sting you and your dogs.

hornet uk

Hornets are bigger than wasps, and if they sting you they’re more painful than a wasp sting.

Hornet stings are alkaline, like a wasp, so even if you misidentify one as a wasp the treatment will still work and make it less painful.


Horseflies don’t sting, but they do bite and can bite your dog too.

The bite is itchy and sore, and the initial bite is painful so your dog may yelp and react the same way they would with a sting.

horsefly on skin

As the horsefly doesn’t inject anything into the skin when they bite, the usual vinegar or bicarb treatments won’t have any effect, positive or negative.

Do I tell the dog’s owner they’ve been stung?

Yes. Always inform them, offer an extra pop in to check on them if you can or suggest to the owner that they might want to keep an eye on any remote cameras they have in their home. 

Most dogs recover from being stung without any issues but on rare occasions, it can make them poorly enough to need a vet visit.

For any dog that has been stung around the nose, mouth or throat areas and has swelling as a reaction I would not recommend leaving unattended until the swelling reduces.

If they continue to swell the risk is that their airway could be reduced or even cut off and in some dog breeds, especially in hot weather and especially with brachycephalic breeds, this could be fatal. 

Better safe than sorry.

What do dog walkers carry for bee stings?

Bicarb of soda and Water for Bee stings

Vinegar and a cotton ball for Wasp stings

Looking to update your canine first aid skills?


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