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Bee, Hornet

Shih Tzu Stung by Bee, Wasp, Hornet, Yellow Jacket, Ants 


In many states across the US, springtime marks the start of bee season, as worker bees are hatched in preparation to start collecting pollen. Other stinging insects such as hornets and wasps start to appear as well. These sorts of insects remain all throughout the summer and into the fall. Bees are active during the day and hornets are more active at night. This means that from the beginning of spring until the end of fall and essentially around the clock, there is a risk to your Shih Tzu that you should be aware of. 

Getting stung by any sort of stinging insect not only can cause pain, but also an allergic reaction. In some cases, a dog can be terribly allergic to a sting (even if he was not before) that can quickly become an emergency situation. Getting swarmed to the point of being completely overwhelmed has happened to dogs and their owners before, so we must take steps to try and prevent this.

What would you do if your puppy or dog was suddenly surrounded by aggressive bees? What immediate steps should you take if your Shih Tzu is stung? Do you know what the signs are of allergic reaction to venom? It’s important to be prepared, so let’s discuss:
  • Bees, hornets, yellow jackets, wasps and red ants
  • The unknown danger of these insects
  • What to do if your Shih Tzu is stung, swarmed and/or has an allergic reaction
  • Prevention steps to help decrease the odds of being attacked
Known and Hidden Dangers of Insect Stings to Dogs

Just like people, dogs that get stung will feel quite a bit of discomfort. In addition, if a Shih Tzu riles up a nest, there is a chance of being swarmed, which can lead to multiple stings. 

The issue that many people do not know about, is that the reaction to any sting is independent of any previous events. 
A dog can be stung by several bees and do okay, however the next time just one sting can send him into anaphylactic shock. Or a Shih Tzu can be stung by a hornet and handle it well, but then his body may not be able to handle being stung by a wasp. 

For this reason, prevention is key, and should an attack occur, taking steps to treat your dog and knowing what signs to look for in regard to a bad reaction can literally save your Shih Tzu’s life.
Why Dogs Are Prone to Getting Stung and the Dangers of Each Stinging Insect

Being close to the ground and instinctively sniffing at the ground places a dog at risk for being stung by many sorts of bugs. For toy breeds like the Shih Tzu, the risk is even higher as they are closer to the ground and their single coat of hair offers far less protection than the double-coats that many other dog breeds have. 
honey bee
Bees – It’s a myth that bees die after stinging; out of the over 20,000 difference species of bees, only the honey bee dies afterward. This means that a dog (or you) can get stung numerous times. And while you may imagine that most bees make their nests high up in trees or up near the roofs of buildings, about 70% of them actually build nests at ground level or under the ground (with ground-level openings). This means that a hive can be set off just by a dog walking across the ground. 
And it is not just Africanized bees that you need to protect your Shih Tzu from; dogs can be terribly swarmed by the normal ‘honey bee’. In Scottsdale Arizona, a woman and her 3 dogs were attacked by an estimated 50,000 bees (later found to belong to a 70 lb. nest found in an attic). They were outside when it happened, were taken inside, huddled into the bathroom while the woman called 911, but sadly the dogs were overcome with stings and did not make it. 

In Loma Linda, California, Daisy, a Golden Retriever died after her and her owner were attacked by bees. She was stung over 100 times. Firefighters came to the rescue, however she died the next day. And it this sort of tragedy has happened in many other places: Texas, Missouri… In Peoria Arizona, a woman driving in her car with her dog was attacked by bees through the open car window. And again, the dog did not survive. 
Yellow jackets – Yellow jackets can be very dangerous to dogs, as they do double damage, this insect both stings and bites. They are known to attack without provocation and they often make their nests very close to where your Shih Tzu will be: at ground level.

In Florida, a man along with his son and their Shiba Inu named China were attacked by yellow jackets while taking a walk for daily exercise; it is thought that they stepped on a nest. The dog went into liver failure but thankfully has since recovered. In New York state, a police officer and his canine dog were both swarmed by yellow jackets but thankfully in that cases, both survived. 
yellow jacket hornet
Wasps – Perhaps the scariest looking of all stinging insects, wasps can be relentless when stinging a dog. Just one can sting hundreds of times. And it does not end there, with this insect there is an element in the venom that slows down blood flow, which prevents dilution that occurs with other types of stings. They, as well, can be where your Shih Tzu is; the Ground Digger Wasp, as the name implies, lives near the ground, often in gardens and other places where a dog may be sniffing. 

Hornets – Hornets are a subset of wasps and like their counterparts, can sting numerous times. What you should know about these insects is that they are extremely aggressive and may consider a dog walking near their nest reason enough to attack. Their stings will hurt more than a wasp’s due to their venom containing a larger amount of acetylcholine. If a Shih Tzu is found to be allergic to hornets, that dog will also be allergic to wasps. 
Fire ants – These are also known as red ants (though many are a brown color) and it is common for them to take down small animals such as frogs, worms, birds, lizards and even other bugs. Attacking as a group, hundreds of do so in unison. They bite, sting and then inject a venom and a fire ant attack on a dog can be very painful, able to cause an allergic reaction. They build colonies most often in moist areas such as well-watered lawns and near rivers or ponds, so they can be found in areas where a dog may be playing or taken for a walk.  
fire ants
Special Alert: We will now counteract all of these unpleasant insect photos with some cute Shih Tzu!
Shih Tzu wearing bandana
Misty, at 10 months old
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Hammond and Steve Vienneau 
What to Do if Your Shih Tzu is Being Attacked by Bees or Other Flying, Venomous, Stinging Insects

It can happen at any time and just about any place (re: the woman who was driving her dog and the bees came in through the window), so while you want to enjoy the outdoors and walking your Shih Tzu is very important for good health, do be prepared to take action immediately.

What you should if your Shih Tzu is being stung by one bee or a swarm of hornets, is run. Very quickly. While it may sound very simple, many people panic if their dog is being attacked by bees and will hesitate to do what is needed. Jumping into water does not help, instinct to swat at the insects does not help (it angers them more) and freezing in fear will only cause your Shih Tzu to be stung more times. 

Remember that whatever material possessions you must leave behind are not more important than your Shih Tzu’s well-being (and in many cases, can be retrieved later). 

Please note that even if your dog is stung by one bee and the bee dies, it already let out a special pheromone that tells other bees in the area that your Shih Tzu is a danger and they, in turn, may start attacking, so running is the best action to take. 
Specifically, you will want to:

1. Pick up your Shih Tzu, holding him close to your body (this prevent stings to at least a partial area of his own body).

2. If possible, cover his body with your shirt, jacket, etc. Also, if possible, pull up your shirt to cover your face (except for your eyes, of course). Bee can sting through clothing, but this does help to some degree. 

3. Your goal is to seek shelter, while being prepared that some insects may follow you inside. 

4. Keep in mind that a bee can fly 12+ miles an hour, so you cannot run faster than them. However, most attacks are territorial and many bees, wasps, hornets, etc. will give up chase after about 50 yards. Very aggressive bees can give chase up to 100 yards and Africanized honey bees may not give up for a mile. 

5. You want to run in a straight line and if possible, run into the wind as this can slow them down. 
3 Shih Tzu dogs
Hachi, Jana & Winston
Photo courtesy of Lori Gutierrez
6. Once you reach shelter, head for an interior room. Bees and other stinging insects often get confused when entering a house and may start to swarm near the windows.

7. If there are bees or other insects on your Shih Tzu, douse him with soapy water, as the soap film often will immobilize the insects. 
At Home Treatment for Stings to a Shih Tzu

1. Do not leave your Shih Tzu alone. Remember that any sting is independent from any other attack in the dog’s history (a dog can be allergic at any time, no matter what happened before). It can take anywhere from 1 minute to 45 for signs to appear, so it will be vital to not only treat the Shih Tzu at home, but also keep a close eye on the puppy or dog in case the body reacts to the venom. 
2. Remove any stingers. These can continue to release venom until removed and stingers can be anywhere on a dog, so you will want to check your dog’s entire body, parting your Shih Tzu’s coat as needed. Do not attempt to pull them out or use a tweezers. Scraping them out with a credit card works best. 

3. Bathe your Shih Tzu. The lather from the shampoo will remove body oils, allowing topical home remedies to work their best. 

4. With vet approval, give Benadryl. For minor cases, this is most often recommended by veterinarians, but if a dog has an allergic reaction, emergency veterinary care will be needed. Typical dosing for canines is 1 mg (NOT ml) per pound of body weight, given every 8 hours. Do not give OTC pain meds unless instructed by the vet.

5. Treat the pain with the appropriate homemade paste, as follows, according to which type of insect has stung your puppy or dog:
little Shih Tzu puppy
Arnie Wilson Griffey, at 7 years old, Photo courtesy of Brad and Pam Griffey
If a Shih Tzu has fire ant stings: There are 2 methods of helping with this, ammonia or a mix of baking soda and water. Either of these is applied via cotton balls, dabbing the marks for 15 minutes. 

If a Shih Tzu has bee stings or yellow jacket stings: Baking soda and water can help neutralize the acidic venom of these insects. You will want to mix these until it makes a thick paste. This is then applied to each sting mark and allowed to soak into the skin for 15 minutes. Afterward, you can access the marks and may apply to your Shih Tzu a 2nd time. 

If your Shih Tzu has wasp or hornet stings: The ‘go to’ home remedy for these is vinegar, applied via a cotton ball for at least 15 minutes. The vinegar helps to neutralize the alkalines in this sort of venom. You’ll want to make sure the cotton is soaked in this, can keep it gently pressed against the stings. 

6. Apply ice as needed. If a sting is red and/or swollen, gently placing an ice pack against that area on your Shih Tzu for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off and help reduce the swelling and give some relief from the pain. 
happy Shih Tzu with bow
Snoopy, at 1 year old
Photo courtesy of Neha Chandla
Home VS Vet Care and Allergic Reactions to Stings or Bites

Here are 5 important facts to know:

1. As we discussed above, a dog could have been stung in the past multiple times and was able to be treated at home, but the next time just 1 sting can cause a life-threatening reaction. And a Shih Tzu may be just fine after being stung by a bee, but be terribly allergic to a wasp. So, monitoring your puppy or dog is important, for at least the first hour afterward. 

2. Even if your Shih Tzu seems okay, anything more than 15 stings warrants a visit (for humans, the ‘danger’ number is 8.6 per each 10 lbs. of body weight). This is because, even if those stings do not cause anaphylaxis (more ahead), the accumulation of venom may induce a toxic reaction with the most common symptoms being nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, weakness, fainting, convulsions and/or fever.
3. In cases of a minor reaction, swelling and pain go away within hours.
4. In case of a moderate reaction, swelling from a sting may last as long as 1 week. In some cases, it will get worse on day 2 or 3, before it slowly starts to get better. 

5. If you notice ANY of the following signs of emergency allergic reactions, do not hesitate to bring your Shih Tzu to the veterinarian or closest animal hospital, as it could very well save his life. 
Emergency Allergic Reactions

While rare, an extreme allergic reaction to bee stings (or other venomous insects) can happen; this is referred to as anaphylactic shock, which is considered life-threatening. The most common signs include: 
  • Facial Swelling – With canines, this is most noticeable about the eyes and the lips. It may affect one or both eyes. 
  • Abnormal swelling of sting site – While some minor swelling is expected when a dog gets stung, if the swelling spreads (the bite was on the foot, but now the leg is becoming swollen, etc.) this is a red flag. 
  • Breathing issues – The dog may have raspy breathing or start wheezing, though any change in breathing patterns is a huge red flag. 
  • Behavior changes – This includes weakness, lethargy or confused behavior. 
Other signs may include: Rash, vomiting, loss of bladder and/or bowel control and/or excessive drooling.
Shih Tzu smiling
Bugzy Malone, at 1 year old
Photo courtesy of Paula and Al
Emergency Treatment 

At the onset of any of the above symptoms, immediate treatment is needed. Minutes matter and can mean the difference between life and death. 

In most cases, epinephrine is given via injection. An emergency airway may need to be established, if the dog cannot breathe. Additionally, the Shih Tzu may need to be given fluids to reduce shock levels and to hydrate. A corticosteroid such as Dexamethasone may be given for swelling. Once the dog stabilizes, antihistamines are given as well. Most dogs will need to be kept overnight for 24 to 48 hours. 

If your Shih Tzu ever has such a reaction, the veterinarian may prescribe an EpiPen for you to be able to treat your dog right after a sting. If the vet does not mention this, do please inquire about it. 
pretty Shih Tzu
Gabbi, at 5 years old
Photo courtesy of Charise Jones
Preventing Stings to Your Shih Tzu

Now that you know just how dangerous and scary it can be if a dog is attacked by bees or other venomous flying insects, no doubt you want to take very step possible to avoid this. Fortunately, there are many things you can do, to be able to enjoy the outdoors while staying safe. 

1). Supervise your Shih Tzu when he is outside.
For some owners, having a doggie door and a fenced in yard means less work for the human and more freedom for the dog, however this is a recipe for disaster. Hawks and snakes are just some concerns, there is also the issue of a dog eating poisonous weeds or flowers and of course, bee attack. Even if your yard seems safe, wasps and other insects can build nests within just a day and these can be in places that you do not expect for them to be. 

2) Routinely check your yard for any nests. We suggest doing this 1 time per month. 
Also keep an eye out at the dog park or other outside areas that you frequently bring your Shih Tzu to. At home, you do not want to disturb a nest; we recommend using a professional exterminator. Out in public, do report large nests to your city or town.   

3) Take caution if your Shih Tzu wants to sniff. Many of the insects we have discussed build homes under things… logs, bushes, flower beds, under shrubbery, etc. or in holes in the grass. And these are areas that dogs like to sniff. This puts your Shih Tzu at risk for disturbing hives. You’ll want to keep your dog near you, on leash. As always, we recommend a harness instead of a collar, so that you can have good control over your dog, able to pull him away without harming the neck. 

4) Keep your Shih Tzu inside when doing yard work. Bees and other such stinging insects are often disturbed due to loud noises such as lawn mowers or weed trimmers. Also, pruning bushes and other such tasks can provoke a nest.  

5) Keep your Shih Tzu inside right after the yard is mowed. The smell of freshly cut grass has been shown to aggravate honey bees (other strong scents such as perfumes or even bug repellent spray that smells like lemon can disturb bees). In addition, for dogs with allergies, this is prime time to them to inhale allergens that are kicked up into the air. 

6) Do not worry about being overly cautious. Removing yourself and your Shih Tzu from an area with bees is not an overreaction. Bees often give warning before they attack; they may fly at your face or buzz around you. This is a warning sign and should be paid attention to. Do not feel shy about picking up your Shih Tzu and leaving the area. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

7) But do not let all of this scare you. Sure, bee stings are not fun and the thought of being chased by a swarm is… well, yes, it is scary. But don’t let the idea of a possible scary event hold you back from having outdoor fun with your Shih Tzu. Receiving daily exercise and spending time outside lends towards a longer life and better behavior… and massive bee attacks and severe reaction to bites are rare; following these prevention steps & knowing how to react will keep your Shih Tzu safe. 
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