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If you’ve got a four-legged friend then you may have noticed that he tries to eat bees while playing outdoors. This seems like an odd choice of snack since bees can deliver a painful sting so why do dogs eat bees in the first place?
Dogs have a natural prey instinct and this is often triggered by the erratic flight of a bee. What’s more, dogs are also incredibly curious and, when they see a bee, they’re ready to investigate, even by putting the insect in their mouths.
Of course, as a dog owner, you’ll naturally be concerned for your pet’s well-being if he gets his chops around a buzzing bee. In this guide, I’ll talk about the reasons that dogs eat bees, look at the potential risks, and discuss what to do if your dog swallows a bee. I’ll also be talking about ways you can deter your dog and stop him from trying to munch on this stinging snack!
Table of Contents
There are several reasons that your dog might be trying to catch and eat a bee. It can seem very worrying for owners but understanding why your pet is behaving this way is the first step in stopping it from happening in the future.
As I mentioned earlier, dogs are natural predators and they will be attracted to the movement of any potential prey. This can include smaller animals, cattle, sheep, and yes, even bees. Some breeds are more attuned to this natural desire to hunt such as hunting and herding dogs.
However, in some cases, your dog might simply be attracted to the idea of catching a moving object and may see it as a game. Not realizing the risk of getting stung. Many dogs will engage in this behavior simply because it feels fun. Not only is your dog naturally driven by prey but he also wants to have a good time!
What’s more, even if your dog isn’t actively chasing a bee, one could fly into his path and end up inside his mouth while he’s snapping in the air.
We all know what it’s like to have a pesky flying insect buzzing around. There’s nothing more annoying and this is something that dogs experience as well.
If your furry friend is being pestered or followed by a bee, his natural reaction might be to snap at it in the same way we might swat a flying pest. This is the dog’s way of telling the bee to back off but it may sometimes result in your pet ingesting the offending insect.
Dogs are naturally curious animals that want to explore the world. For them, especially younger dogs with little life experience, a buzzing bee might be a thing of mystery.
Unlike humans that primarily use their sense of touch and sight to explore the world, your dog uses his nose and mouth to check things out. This means that, if he wants to explore a bee, he’s going to need to put it in his mouth. He might not actually be trying to eat it but just get a feel for it. That is until it’s too late and the bee stings in defense.
While this might be painful and slightly traumatic for your dog, he’s an intelligent animal and this will likely be enough to deter him from being overly curious around bees in the future.
While I have just said that some dogs will get stung and learn their lesson, others may develop a fear of bees and other flying bugs after experiencing a sting. In this case, the dog may become aggressive and defensive when a bee flies near him.
In response to these feelings, your dog may chase or snap at the bee which could result in it eating the insect. On the other hand, you may find that your dog runs in the opposite direction, avoiding a repeat of his last interaction with the bee.
You’re probably familiar with the notion that humans can develop obsessive-compulsive habits but did you know that dogs can also struggle with these?
One of the most common is known as fly snapping and when a flying insect passes by, your dog has an insatiable urge to snap at it. He simply cannot stop it.
In some cases, dogs with this condition may also be seen to snap at flies that aren’t even there. While this might seem like something of a quirk, it’s important to monitor your dog’s health if you notice behavior like this as fly snapping could be a sign of digestive issues. I would recommend speaking to your vet for more information and they’ll also be able to carry out appropriate testing.
If your dog eats a bee, the chances of anything serious happening are very low. The worst case would be that the bees sting your dog during the act which can cause pain and other minor symptoms. However, for the most part, these aren’t anything to worry about.
There may be some instances in which the dog has an allergy to bees which could result in a more serious outcome. However, I’ll discuss what to do about this in the following section.
You may also notice that your dog is a little anxious after the sting and they may develop a fear of flying insects. This is totally normal but something that shouldn’t be ignored. While I wouldn’t suggest forcing your dog to be around bees for ‘exposure’, it is a good idea to reassure him and put him at ease.
If you know that your dog ate a bee, as in you watched it happen then you won’t need to worry about the first step I’m going to discuss.
However, if you only think your dog ate a bee then you’ll first need to determine whether this is actually the case. Of course, if the bee has been swallowed, you’re not going to be able to find it and guesswork is all you’ll have. But sometimes, dogs won’t actually swallow the bee but keep it somewhere in their mouth.
It’s therefore incredibly important to check all around the inside of the mouth, around the lips, inside their snout and under the tongue. If you find the bee, you can remove it.
In the event that your dog has been stung, you’ll need to check that there isn’t a stinger left behind. Note that not all bees are capable of stinging and it’s only honey bees that leave their sting behind. If you find a sting, then you’ll need to gently scrape it out to avoid any venom being injected. The best way to do this is by using a flat-edged object like a credit card and scraping it along the skin in one direction to bring the sting out.
If you’ve ever been stung by a bee, you’ll know that it can be pretty painful so your dog may need some TLC. You can use an ice pack on the area to reduce any swelling but if your dog shows signs of excessive pain or distress then it may be best to have him checked out by your vet. The good news is that swallowing a bee won’t result in your dog being poisoned. Bees inject venom but are not poisonous if ingested.
Usually, bee stings only cause minor superficial symptoms but in some cases, where an allergy is present, they can be fatal. If you aren’t sure whether or not your dog is allergic to bees, it is essential that you monitor him over the coming 24 hours. If you notice any symptoms like:
- Excessive swelling
- Difficulty breathing
- Collapsing or losing consciousness
…you should seek emergency veterinary care.
In the event that you already know your dog has a bee sting allergy, your vet may recommend administering some allergy medication to prevent symptoms from worsening over time. However, it is still essential that you monitor your dog as severe allergic reactions may still take hold.
The bee may not only sting your dog in his mouth; it could also sting as it enters his insides. In this case, you need to be very careful that any internal swelling doesn’t affect your dog’s ability to breathe easily. Moreover, there may be some associated gastrointestinal problems so again, it’s really important to monitor your dog and seek medical attention if you notice anything unusual.
With the complications that could arise from your dog eating a bee, it’s only natural that you’ll want to avoid this happening.
The best way to stop your dog from trying to eat a bee is to keep him away from them. I realize that this can be difficult when your pet is playing in the yard but there are things you can do to stop bees from coming to your garden.
Having lots of native flowering plants like salvia, goldenrod, sunflowers, and lavender can all attract bees so avoid planting these in your garden. Instead, you’ll want to plant things that will naturally repel bees like eucalyptus and citronella. What’s more, bees love a water source so if you have a pond, water feature, or even a swimming pool, they’ll be more likely to congregate.
When you take your dog on a walk, try to find places where there aren’t a lot of bees. Again, walking through a meadow full of native wildflowers is asking for trouble and if you know of any local bee’s nests, it’s best to take a wide berth.
It’s also really important to train your dog how to appropriately act around bees. Using commands like leave it may seem simple but they’re incredibly effective and could be all it takes to prevent a nasty sting. Other training methods such as distracting your dog may be enough to take their attention away from the bee.
For dogs that are afraid of bees, it’s a case of working with them to eliminate this anxiety. Often, this isn’t something that owners can achieve on their own and the help of a dog behavior specialist is usually required. Your vet will be able to discuss your options and may even be able to offer medication to deal with the issue.
Finally, there may be situations where you have tried everything but your dog continues to snap at and chase bees. For his own safety, it may be worth considering a muzzle when you are out and about. This will prevent him from being able to get at the bees at all.
Seeing your dog put his health at risk is a worrying situation for any pet owner. However, with a natural prey drive and heaps of curiosity, there’s a good chance that your pup will try to investigate and eat a bee at least once.
You might be wondering why dogs eat bees and there are many reasons for this. However, the most important thing is to monitor your dog and make sure that he doesn’t have an allergic reaction to the bee or any stings he may have sustained.