Why Do Dogs Eat Bees? Should I Be Concerned?

dog snapping at a bee

There are three major reasons dogs eat bees. First, it’s new and they don’t know any better. Second, their prey drive instinct kicks in. Third, they are bored, and snapping at a bee gives them something fun to do. If your dog eats bees, you’ll notice they probably snap at flies as well. 

Help, the dog is broken. He won’t stop eating bees. Why is he doing that? It can’t be good for him, right?

Unfortunately, many of us have been through this same thing. For the lucky ones, their dog learned quickly after a sting or two that bees were not something good to eat. But for many others, those of us with energetic dogs or ones with a high prey instinct, nothing seems to deter them. 

It may seem like your dog has some screws loose, choosing to subject himself to the pain and discomfort of bee stings, but it is completely normal behavior for dogs to be interested in, and try to eat, bees. 

If your dog is a bee-eater, there are ways to minimize the behavior, but it’s important to monitor him when he’s outside around bees because it can be a dangerous habit.

Why Do Dogs Eat Bees?

It’s New and They Don’t Know Any Better

The first time a dog interacts with a bee, he doesn’t know that it’s potentially harmful. Dogs use their mouths to explore and learn about the world. So, until they’ve been stung, your dog may not understand that eating a bee is bad, or at least not very smart. 

The sound of buzzing is interesting to your dog, or it might even bother him. The decision to snap at or eat the bee could be out of curiosity or an attempt to make this annoying thing go away.

Their Prey Drive Kicks in

All dogs have a prey drive, but some dogs have a much higher prey drive than others. This causes them to go after any moving object or animal, regardless of what it is. This drive will often cause dogs to snap at flies too. 

If your dog has a high prey instinct, he might also lunge at birds during your walks or chase a neighborhood cat down the street. 

The best thing you can do for a dog with a high prey drive is to train them. They need to earn when it’s acceptable to chase after something and when it’s not.

They’re Bored – This Is Something Fun to Do

Trying to catch a flying object, or in this case, a flying insect, can be really fun for a dog. Many dogs that snap at flies or bees are just playing. 

Maybe they’re bored at home alone in the yard, and they’re finding ways to entertain themselves. They think of it as a game. 

In this case, making sure your dog is getting enough exercise and stimulation throughout the day, with walks and fun toys, is an excellent way to minimize the behavior. Training is always a good idea to teach them where to direct their energy if they are bored and looking for an outlet.

How Dangerous Is This Habit?

Stings

Bee stings themselves are usually not dangerous for your dog, although they are painful and typically cause swelling for a few days. 

The danger comes when the sting causes swelling of the airways, which is more common if your dog is going around eating bees like they’re candy. Swelling inside the mouth and throat can restrict your dog’s airway and make it hard for him to breathe.

Allergic Reactions

Just like with people, dogs can have allergic reactions to bee stings. While most stings are minor and won’t cause more than the typical response of swelling, redness, and tenderness, some dogs can have an anaphylactic reaction. This would make it hard for them to breathe, even if the bee sting itself isn’t in a location that would cause swelling to restrict his airway. If you see any signs that your dog is having trouble breathing, take him to the vet immediately.

Eaten with No Sting

The good news is that if your dog is lucky enough to eat the bee without getting stung, he’s managed to avoid the potential danger. 

Once the bee is in his stomach, it won’t do any more damage. Your dog’s stomach acid will neutralize the venom that would usually cause reactions from the sting, so at that point, it’s like he’s eaten a fly or any other insect.

How Can I Stop My Dog from Eating Bees?

You have two options when it comes to a bee-eating problem. You can either try to prevent the behavior when your dog is around bees or try to prevent your dog being around bees in general.

Training

Training should always be your first line of defense with behavioral problems. Slowly work with your dog to train him not to pay attention to, play with, or eat bees. 

Reward him with treats and praise when he ignores the bees, and redirect his attention to chew toys when he is bored and looking for entertainment. 

Don’t expect your dog to suddenly stop this bad habit of his and pay no attention to bees right away. Training will take time and patience, but it is the best option since you can’t always avoid bees if you take your dog outside the home.

Bee Repellent

Non-toxic bee repellents are a great way to keep bees away from your dog if you have flowering plants in one area of the yard, like in the front of your house, but you want to keep the bees away from your dog in the backyard. 

Bees naturally dislike some scents, including peppermint, spearmint, and eucalyptus, so spraying these scents around your outdoor area can help deter them.

Gardening Choices

If your response to training is “That’s easier said than done,” or “There is no training this dog!” and bee repellents haven’t worked, you can always try to mitigate the problem through your gardening choices. 

Avoid planting flowers that attract bees in any part of your yard near where your dog spends time outside. Instead, incorporate non-flowering plants like bushes and shrubs, and try adding plants to your landscaping that give off scents that act as natural bee repellent, like mint. 

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Eaten a Bee?

If your dog didn’t get stung, you probably won’t know that he’s eaten a bee unless you saw it happen. And other than promoting a bad habit, there’s no genuine worry in this case since the bee can’t do any harm once it’s in your dog’s stomach. 

If a bee stung your dog, look for signs of swelling, redness, and irritation. He might rub his face more than usual or lick the sting site if it’s somewhere else on his body, like his paw. 

He will be uncomfortable and unhappy, so chances are you’ll see and hear his distress with little effort. If you think a bee has stung your dog, keep an eye out for signs that he’s having trouble breathing, in case you need to take immediate action and rush him to the vet.

What Should I Do If My Dog Was Stung by a Bee?

If a bee has stung your dog, first look to see if the stinger is still lodged in the wound. This might take some effort, especially if your dog has long, thick fur. 

If you see the stinger, remove it by scraping it away with something like a credit card. Don’t use tweezers or try to pinch the stinger to get a hold of it because this could cause more of the venom to be injected into your dog. 

If you see severe swelling of your dog’s airways or signs of trouble breathing, take him to the vet immediately. Otherwise, just give your dog time to recover, and he should be back to normal in no time.

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