Bee Stings are Deadly for Hunting Dogs
Bob McNally 10.05.15
I run my two English spring spaniels every morning to keep them and me in hunting shape. Recently, while making a turn down a woody road, the older dog, Kate, started acting weird, rubbing her nose on the ground, spinning, and whining.
I quickly walked to her and saw she was being attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets.
We were close to a river boat ramp, so I ran with the dogs to the water, coaxed them in, and in 5 minutes called them out. Kate had been stung numerous times in the head and body. All but two of the yellow jackets were drowned and gone, and I killed the remaining pair.
In five minutes I was at my car, saw that Kate was swollen in the face, eyes droopy, and I immediately headed to the veterinarian. Ten minutes later Kate was in the pet hospital, clearly in distress, and a minute later the doctor gave her a combo-shot of steroids and anti-histamine. Shortly the dog was okay. 30 minutes later and $100 poorer we were at home, and I found and dispatched the ground-nesting yellow jacket nest.
This is the second time Kate has tangled with ground-nesting bees. The first time was as a young, lightweight dog, and she almost died.
A friend had a similar event with his beagle hound a few weeks ago. My next-door-neighbor is a hunter, and his Labrador retriever was killed by yellow jackets one day when he got into a nest in his fenced backyard, the family unaware.
Another buddy lost a Brittany spaniel to bees, and I know numerous other hunters who’ve had run-ins with bumblebees, wasps, and hornets.
I believe yellow jackets are the worst because they swarm, are relentless in their attack, and live by the hundreds underground where gun dogs sniff, paw, and root.
A veterinarian can save a stung dog’s life, but during a hunt a doctor is not always nearby. A good idea is to have a vet sell you a steroid/anti-histamine syringe for an in-field gun dog. My vet also advises giving a stung dog 10 milligrams (per pound of animal) of over-the-counter Benadryl immediately following a severe bee sting. Keep it with you hunting as it may save your dog’s life.