Stinging Pests

Stinging Pests

Have you noticed an increase in the amount of flying stinging insects lately? We have had many calls regarding pets being stung. Although these insects seem like just a nuisance, they do provide benefits such as insect control and pollination. We’ve gathered some information on how to coexist, prevent conflict, and treat your pet if they are stung.


What is the difference between bees, yellowjackets, wasps, and hornets? Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between the yellow & black flying insects. Knowing what species you are dealing with can affect how you handle them. Here is a chart that may help with identification.

Photo Credit: Barrier Pest Control

Why are they hanging around?

These pests have always been around, but the drought we are experiencing is to blame for the increase in conflict we are having with them. They are having difficulty finding water and food. The number of insects, their primary food source, is decreased. The prey insects gravitate towards your gardens and flowers that are irrigated, therefore so do the stinging pests.

In Pet’s Water Dish


It is possible to coexist, minimize, or eliminate stinging insects without being stung or using harsh insecticides.

  • Spring is the best time to trap them before they take up residence. Some natural recipes for traps can target wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets while avoiding killing bees.
  • Many species abandon their nests each season. Remove the nests and fill in any gaps in siding, roofing, etc. where they like to build their homes. One source mentioned rubbing weather protected surfaces with regular bar soap.
  • Plant native species or drought tolerant plants where you don’t mind these insects hanging around.
  • Herbs such a thyme, lemongrass, spearmint, and peppermint are natural deterrents.
  • Supply an alternate water source in their area. This may encourage them to avoid your pet’s water dish. Be sure to check pet dishes and change their water frequently.
  • Remove any meat, rotting fruit, or other sugary sources that are attractive.
  • Discourage your pet from playing near nests or harassing these insects.
  • If you are dealing with bees, they can be safely relocated by a trained beekeeper.
  • For severe infestations, contact an exterminator. Ask if they use pet friendly methods of removal or if your pet should avoid the areas.


Most pets can be treated for insect stings at home. Like people, a rare patient may have a more serious anaphylactic reaction requiring hospitalization. It is important to monitor your pet closely for several hours after being stung for facial swelling and/or difficulty breathing. Signs a pet may have been stung include pawing or chewing at a specific spot, swelling, redness, limping, short burst of vocalization, yelping or whining.

What to do:

Diphenhydramine is the generic name of Benadryl®
  • Remove the stinger if visible.
  • Have Benadryl® (diphenhydramine) on hand and consult your veterinarian for a dose.
  • Apply a cold pack to reduce pain and swelling.
  • If you have a pet safe anti-inflammatory (Dogs- Carprofen, Metacam, etc. or Felines- Onsior) you may give a dose.
  • Distract the pet with food, a favorite toy, a walk, etc. to keep them from licking and chewing at the site.
  • Monitor for facial swelling and difficulty breathing.
Minor Facial Swelling

For more information on “Bee & Wasp Toxicity” visit the Pet Poison Helpline.