Insect bites and stings in dogs


  • Insect bites and stings are quite common in dogs during the spring, summer and early autumn.
  • Dogs are most often stung/bitten around their face or on their paws.
  • Most stings and bites can be managed at home as long as the signs are mild.
  • Some cases are more serious — if your dog is showing any signs of an allergic reaction, or they have been stung several times, contact your vet immediately.

Which insects sting and bite dogs?

A dog in a garden watching a bee

While your dog is exploring outside, they’ll come across all sorts of insects that have the potential to sting and/or bite them, including:

  • Bees – bee stings can be very painful and you may see the stinger left behind. 
  • Wasps – wasp stings can also be very painful, they can sting multiple times but don’t leave their stinger behind.
  • Ticks – ticks that are removed quickly and carefully are unlikely to cause any ongoing problems. Read more in our article ‘Ticks on dogs’.
  • Mosquitos – mosquito bites don’t often cause serious problems in dogs – you may not even notice that they have been bitten.
  • Ants – ant bites can sometimes cause small red lumps to appear, but don’t often cause serious problems.
  • Flies – similar to other bites, fly bites don’t often cause serious problems in dogs. They might appear as red lumps or scabs, and if they are large, may require salt water cleaning.

How do I know if my dog has been stung?

Insect stings and bites can be very painful. They can happen anywhere on the body but are most common on the face and paws. If a bee stings your dog, it will leave the sting in the skin. Wasp stings don’t have this tell-tale sign and may sting your dog more than once.

Symptoms of a mild reaction:

  • Mild swelling in the affected area
  • Licking, biting or pawing the area
  • Whining and crying
  • Limping or holding up a paw
  • Drooling

Allergic reaction symptoms:

Just like in humans, some dogs can be allergic to insect bites and stings. Symptoms often include:

Contact a vet immediately if your dog is showing any signs of an allergic reaction, has a swelling around their face, neck or throat, or if they’ve been stung several times.

Read more about severe allergic reactions in dogs.

What to do if your dog has been stung

If your dog is showing any of the above signs of an allergic reaction take them to a vet as soon as possible. However, if they are only showing signs of a mild reaction, follow the steps below:

  • Have a look at the affected area, if there is a stinger left behind, try to gently remove it by placing the edge of a credit card under the venom sac (yellowish blob), and very gently scraping it out. Don’t try to squeeze it with tweezers or your fingers as it could release more venom into your dog.
  • Place a cold, damp cloth on the affected area to soothe the skin and reduce swelling. Alternatively, you could use an ice pack covered with a tea towel (or similar), but only if your dog is comfortable with you holding it on them.
  • Anti-histamines can help reduce swelling but you should contact your vet before giving your dog any medication. Your vet will advise you if an antihistamine is appropriate for your dog, and ensure you are giving the right drug, and dose.
  • Monitor closely for signs of an allergic reaction (listed above) – if they are showing any, contact your vet immediately.
  • Home remedies, such as vinegar for wasp stings and bicarbonate and water for bee stings do no harm, however, they may not relieve the symptoms as much as we think they do.
Published: August 2023

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.