Pet Connection

Bee Careful

What to do if a bee stings your pet

By Kim Campbell Thornton

When my dog Harper was a young puppy, a bee stung her on a hind leg. I didn't know what was causing all the screaming and running in circles until I saw the bee fall to the ground. I called the veterinarian, who recommended a quarter tablet of Benadryl and a cold compress. It was hours before Harper was willing to eat or go outside to potty.

It's bee season again. Spring is a busy time for bees, as they have come out of hibernation and are gathering food, pollinating plants in the process.

Bees are beneficial and for the most part beneficent, but like most of us, they can become cranky when it's hot and humid, rainy or if other bees are robbing their hives. And dogs or cats who take a curious or aggressive interest in bees or wasps are likely to receive payback in the form of a sting on the nose or head.

An angry bee is a danger to pets. Dr. Marty Becker and I have gathered some tips to help you prevent or treat the stings of summer.

-- "Beeproof" your yard and home. It's good to have bees visit your flowers to pollinate them, but to prevent them from setting up housekeeping full-time in your yard or home, remove or cover possible nesting sites, such as overturned flower pots, holes in trees or walls, drains or attic vents. Call an expert about removal if you find a nest in the eaves of your home, in the attic or in trees.

-- Honeybees may want to drink from your pet's outdoor water dish. If you are an urban beekeeper (and who isn't these days?), provide bees with their own source of water and place pet dishes well away from hives. To further discourage bees from sipping a pet's water, mix two tablespoons of vinegar with a gallon of water, and fill pet dishes with it.

-- If you see your pet get stung by a bee, remove the stinger right away. Instead of grasping it with tweezers, which can inject more venom into the wound, scrape it away with the edge of a credit card.

-- A mild bee sting can cause a burning or itching sensation that lasts for several minutes or more. You may notice your pet chewing, licking, rubbing or scratching at the area. Mix water and baking soda to make a paste, and apply to the stung area to help relieve the pain. A cold compress can also help to bring down swelling or reduce pain.

-- Grow aloe in your yard. The gel that oozes from a cut leaf helps to soothe bee stings.

-- Keep Benadryl on hand. This antihistamine provides relief from itching, swelling and irritation. The dose depends on your dog's size. Call your veterinarian now and ask how much Benadryl to give your pet if he is stung, then write it on the box.

When you purchase Benadryl, be sure the only ingredient is diphenhydramine. Some formulations contain acetaminophen, which is toxic to pets.

-- Know the phone number and location of your nearest veterinary emergency hospital. Some animals suffer severe reactions to bee stings because they are allergic to bee venom. Known as anaphylaxis, this intense inflammatory reaction causes swelling from excessive fluid buildup in body tissues; itchiness; vomiting; respiratory distress; and collapse or death. It's an emergency. Take your pet to the veterinarian right away.

Pets can also suffer dangerous swelling if they are stung on the head or neck. If those areas swell, they can inhibit a dog or cat's ability to breathe. If you notice swelling on the face or neck, seek immediate veterinary assistance.

Q&A

Cat scratch behavior:

What to know

Q: I just got a kitten, and I want to make sure she doesn't ruin my furniture or carpet by scratching it. Do you have advice on how to trim her nails and keep her from scratching? -- via Facebook

A: You are so smart to be thinking about this early in your kitten's life. Now is the best time to help her learn how to accept grooming with a minimum of fuss and teach her where it's OK to scratch.

One of the ways cats communicate is by scratching. They have special glands in their paws (and elsewhere on the body) that release scent when the cat scratches or rubs against objects or people. Encouraging your cat to scratch a post or other acceptable items will help her to feel secure in her surroundings and reduce the likelihood that she will mark with urine. Scratching is also an important way that cats stretch their muscles.

Experts recommend providing a tall scratching post in a prominent area so your cat can get attention for her scratching skills. Put it somewhere the family spends a lot of time. Choose a post that's at least three feet high so your cat can stretch out to her full length. It can be vertical or horizontal as long as it's sturdy and not wobbly. Most cats like a post covered in sisal, a ropelike material.

In combination with scratching, trimming nails reduces damage to your furniture, clothing and skin. Trim nails every week or two, ideally when your cat is feeling relaxed or sleepy. Put a little pressure on the toe to pop the claw out, and trim above the curve. If your cat is resistant, clip one or two claws a day and give a treat afterward. Your cat will soon welcome the attention. -- Dr. Marty Becker

Do you have a pet question? Send it to askpetconnection@gmail.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.

THE BUZZ

Some new pet owners

get time off from work

-- "Pet-ternity leave"? It's a thing in the U.K., according to research by pet insurance provider Petplan, which found that nearly 1 in 20 new pet owners are employed by companies that offer paid leave when people acquire a new pet. The time off ranges from 10 hours to several weeks and can be used for training classes, vet visits or helping the pet get settled. Companies include pet food manufacturer Mars Petcare and IT company BitSol Solutions. In an unscientific survey by U.K. tabloid The Mirror, readers said 2 to 1 that pet leave was "a purr-fect idea."

-- One of the world's oldest dogs died last month. Maggie, a kelpie who lived on a dairy farm in Australia, was thought to be 30 years old. Her status as world's oldest dog couldn't be officially verified by the Guinness Book of Records, though, because owner Brian McLaren was unable to find the paperwork from her purchase as a puppy. That leaves the title of longest-lived dog to Bluey, an Australian cattle dog who made it to 29 years and 5 months. Bluey, who also lived in Australia, was a working herding dog. Is it something in the water?

-- The Himalayan wolf is so critically endangered that scientists weren't even sure where it could be found, but an international research team reports evidence of the ancient type in Nepal's largest protected area. Their findings, published in the open access journal ZooKeys, describe a wild dog who differs from other wolves with its smaller size, unusually long muzzle and stumpy legs. Woolly body hair and white fur around the throat, chest, belly and inner thighs also distinguish the species. Conflict with humans over livestock predation is the main reason the wolves are threatened. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

ABOUT PET CONNECTION

Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.

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