Published on 17 May 2021
What is a bee hypersensitivity?
There are four different types of hypersensitivity in dogs (Type I - Type IV).
An adverse reaction associated with a bee sting is a Type I hypersensitivity. Type I hypersensitivities are mediated by a by IgE (a type of immunoglobulin that is implicated in allergy) responses to foreign antigens such as bee venom.
A hypersensitivity reaction can vary in severity from mild irritation and swelling to a complete anaphylactic reaction.
Whilst bees are the most commonly implicated in insect in allergic reactions associated with insects, other insects, including wasps can cause allergic reactions in pets.
Who is affected?
Any breed or age of dog can develop a hypersensitivity to bees.
According to PetSure data (across 2020 calendar year), a hypersensitivity to bees is most prevalent in the following breeds:
|Australian Silky Terrier||1.54%|
Prevalence = Total number of unique claiming pets / total number of insured pets across 12-month period. Excludes breeds with less than 500 active pet insurance policies.
Signs of a hypersensitivity to bees
The severity of the allergic reaction depends on the immune systems response, the amount of venom received and the route of exposure to the venom.
The clinical signs can vary depending on the severity of the reaction.
Ranging from mild to severe, the clinical signs that can be associated with bee stings are listed below:
Mild: minor irritation or swelling at the site of the bee sting.
Moderate: urticaria (hives), extensive swelling (for example the entire head or leg may become swollen depending on the site of the sting).
Severe Anaphylaxis: Most cases of anaphylaxis will develop quickly after exposure (within 20 minutes), however there are reports of delayed anaphylaxis (typically within 48 hours of exposure). Clinical signs of anaphylaxis include collapse, vomiting, diarrhoea, hypersalivation and pale gums.
Regardless of the severity of the reaction, prompt evaluation with your veterinarian is recommended.
Management of bee hypersensitivity
Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the allergic reaction.
In mild cases, your veterinarian may prescribe oral antihistamines, or they may consider administering injectable antihistamines and/or steroids.
Anaphylaxis requires immediate veterinary attention and lifesaving intravenous fluid therapy and adrenaline will likely be administered.
For pets that have severe life-threatening allergic reactions to bees, allergy testing and venom immunotherapy (desensitisation) is recommended. In human adults that undergo venom immunotherapy the risk of a severe reaction is reduced from 60% to less than 10%. Allergy testing and venom immunotherapy is generally performed by a board-certified dermatologist. Your veterinarian will be able to advise if this is the most appropriate treatment for your pet.
How much does it cost to treat?
According to PetSure claims data in the 2020 calendar year, the average, single treatment cost relating to insect stings was $207 with the highest, single treatment cost being $6,806.
Disclaimer: Reimbursement for these claims would be subject to limits, such as annual benefit limits or sub-limits, benefit percentage, applicable waiting periods and any applicable excess. Cover is subject to the policy terms and conditions. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or policy wording available from the relevant provider.
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