What To Do If Your Horse Is Stung By a Bee

Posted on
September 30, 2020
a person pets a horse with a white mane
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Being a horse owner, one of the hardest things to handle is when your horse is in pain. The outdoors is home to a myriad of different species of insects and types of bees that your horse may run into. The occasional bump, sting, or bite is sure to happen at some point during your horse’s life. That’s why it’s a good idea to know just what to look for, what reactions they may have to certain bites or stings, and how to treat it. Oftentimes, ailments like these are overlooked for larger animals because of their size. These gentle giants deserve just as much care and close attention as the next animal especially in cases such as these.

In this article we’re going to discuss:

  • Symptoms of Bee Stings
  • Treating Your Horse’s Bee Stings
  • Symptoms of Bug Bites
  • First Aid For Bug Bites
  • Conclusion
A photo of a white horse that's just been stung by a bee.
Luckily, treating bug bites and bee stings is fairly simple if you’re able to locate them. These bites and stings are mostly temporary, so as long as you treat them in a timely manner, things will turn out A-OK. In times when this isn’t the case, you must apply that same “timely manner” mentality to getting your horse seen by a veterinary doctor. That visit could be the difference between your horse getting better or things getting much worse.

Symptoms of Bee Stings

How to know if your horse has been stung

When a bee stings the body it injects a special form of venom. Bee venoms carry special proteins that cause a wide variety of reactions from the body if injected with them. If your horse has been stung by a bee, its immune system will immediately take action, binding to it and releasing chemicals that produce your horse's symptoms.

Symptoms of a bee sting include:

  • Stinger still intact
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Red welts
  • Fast heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness
  • Irritated behavior
  • Darkened urine

 Most of the time, bee stings only cause mild local irritation to horses, but there’s always the chance that your horse may have an allergic reaction to bee venom. Although it’s not as common, if your horse is allergic to bees it can lead to many different serious problems and conditions. 

These conditions include increased breathing distress, damage to the liver and kidneys, overactive coagulation, heart damage, death of skeletal muscle fibers, or the premature destruction of red blood vessels. If you have any concerns about your horse’s reaction to the sting you should consult a veterinary professional to make sure that the site of the sting doesn’t get any worse. 

Treating Your Horse’s Bee Stings

Home remedies and treatments to soothe their pain

First and foremost, if your horse has been stung by a bee you need to locate the stinger and remove it carefully. It may be difficult to locate because the stinger is small and sometimes hard to see. In order to find it, a thorough look around the body of your horse is most likely the way to go. Once the stinger is removed there are a series of other ways you can treat your horse’s ailment. One option is cold therapy which includes applying cold compress or ice packs to the area to reduce inflammation. 

Your horse’s vet may also prescribe an antihistamine, or corticosteroid, for the pain. Some topical things that can be applied at home include applying aloe vera, sodium bicarbonate, or topical malt vinegar. Bee stings tend to heal rather quickly, but proper treatment can make the area heal even quicker.

Symptoms of Bug Bites

Signs to look for to detect insect bites early on

Some horses are prone to being hypersensitive to bug bites. Bug bite allergies are actually quite common. There are just a select number of horses that can develop allergic reactions to the bug’s saliva or mosquito bites in particular.

Symptoms that help to identify bug bites that are irritating your horse include:

  • Pruritus or itching
  • Ulcers
  • Hair Loss
  • Pigmentary disturbances
  • Papules or Legions
  • Hives 
  • Flaky skin
  • Tail twitching
  • Restlessness
  • Discomfort when groomed or saddled
  • Leathery or thick patches of skin
  • Crusting
  • Skin Inflammation

First Aid For Bug Bites

Treating your horse’s bug bites in the most effective way possible

To treat papules, skin irritation, itching, and inflammation a topical steroid may be recommended. It’s very important to treat your horse's skin at the site of the bite to make sure that it’s condition doesn’t get any worse. Skin treatments also make your horse much more comfortable if they're experiencing discomfort from their reaction. There are many different topical ointments that may be available to you if prescribed by a veterinary doctor to alleviate your horse’s symptoms.

One of the best things you can do to combat the effects of your horse’s bug bite allergy or reaction to mosquito bites is using safe insect repellent to limit their exposure. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant bodies of water, so reducing the amount of time you leave water out in close vicinity to your horse can seriously cut down on the bites they receive. 

A horse that's just had its bites treated stands happily in a field.
If these bug bites or stings continue to bother your horse, then it may be worthwhile to have the affected areas looked at. You never know when something more serious could be causing your horse to react in a certain way.


Protecting your horse is always the #1 priority

The fact of the matter is that bugs are everywhere. The outdoors has been their home since the dawn of time. What’s most important is treating what needs to be treated when it comes to your horse. Staying vigilant when assessing what’s bothering them or when looking over their coat can be the difference between a bite or sting being an easy fix or becoming a long term issue. Sometimes your horse may be bitten by an insect that you’ve never even heard of before that causes a reaction. That’s why being cautious can go a long way to ensure that your horse is completely taken care of.

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Posted on
September 30, 2020

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