Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet

There are many things we love about Winter. The lack of insects and snakes is certainly one of them. This year the insects were particularly bad, starting with black flies, mosquitoes and ending with deer flies. There were days we couldn't really go outside at all unless we wanted the dogs to get insanguinated.

Getting stung on the eve of her adoptoversary; not fair.

The season of the bloodsuckers is almost over but other bugs have cropped up.

We found one bald-faced hornet nest on our walk into the woods where we couldn't have gone until the mosquitoes and deer flies got better. It was large, undisturbed until now. Fortunately, this one was hanging on a tree, as it's supposed to, readily visible so we could avoid it.

But not all these buggers play by the rules.

Bald-faced hornet nest. Image BugGuide

On Sunday evening, I took Cookie for our walk-about, as we do at the end of each day; checking on rodent activity around the house. I thought we walked every inch of the place by now, but, apparently, I was wrong. As we were passing a patch of tall grass, Cookie pounced in as she normally does when she detects rodent activity.

She pounced into the tall grass to immediately fly back out of there.

She was shaking her head and started rubbing it against the bush and weeds.

There was no yelp but I could tell she got stung or bit by SOMETHING.

Because I couldn't see anything, and there was no swarming or buzzing, I got worried that it might have been a snake. We see garter snakes and green snakes around here but those are not dangerous.

Butler's Gartersnake. Photo Reptiles and Amphibians of Ontario
Smooth Greensnake. Photo Reptiles and Amphibians of Ontario
Only few days ago we came across a large brown snake I've never seen here. It was in a different area. It was just lying there, not moving, I didn't even know whether it was dead or not. Not wanting to take a chance, we got out of there; I didn't really want to hang around having Cookie with me. I didn't have a really good look at it. I noted the size - it was quite large, rather thick for its length - and I was fairly sure it didn't have any distinct pattern on it. It was more of a dark mud color.

I brought Cookie inside and hubby and I went back out there to see if we could get a better look and maybe snap a photo so we could identify it properly. But when we got there it was gone; clearly it wasn't dead.

We looked up regional snakes and it was most likely a water snake.

Northern Watersnake. Photo Reptiles and Amphibians of Ontario

Those aren't dangerous either but because I wasn't completely sure about our identification, we stay away from that area just in case.

There were no sightings of rattle snakes here and the snake didn't sound any warning, even though I got pretty close before I spotted it. Because I am a worry wart, though, I became concerned about the possibility.
Massasauga Rattle Snakee. Photo Reptiles and Amphibians of Ontario

When she flew out of that tall grass, I was quite worried.

I immediately took her inside to keep her from further activity. I checked her nose and mouth for evidence of any puncture marks. I couldn't find any, which gave me hope that perhaps it wasn't a snake after all.

The mouth already started to swell a bit. I gave her Benadryl and I left her with hubby to keep an eye on her and went back out, hoping to maybe find out what it could have been that got her.

I knew that if it was a snake I wasn't likely to find it there any more but I had to go and try anyway.

And then, to my relief, I found it - a large bald-faced hornet nest, sitting right in the grass.

It must have been the bald-faced hornet that stung her. They weren't swarming; perfectly happy to go about their business as if nothing happened. It was a miracle and I'm thankful to God that all she got was one sting. Normally, with any disturbance, they swarm and attack in great numbers.

Bald-faced hornet. Photo Wikipedia
There are still risks with a dog getting stung.

There is venom in the sting. Enough swelling can cause difficulty breathing. An allergic reaction can cause anaphylactic shock.

I came back in, reporting what I found; hubby is charged with the task of eliminating the nest.

We kept close eye on Cookie, ready to jump into the truck and rush to the emergency vet.

The right side of her muzzle was swollen but she seemed fine otherwise. In couple of hours the swelling started going down and by morning Cookie was as good as new.

I'm very thankful this didn't develop into an emergency situation.

Bald-faced hornets aren't really hornets but belong under the yellowjacket species, so they are technically wasps. Their stingers are not barbed so they can sting multiple times. I didn't find the stinger on Cookie; either the hornet "kept it" or Cookie rubbed it off.

All is well what ends well.

I don't know if Cookie had a chance to learn from this; it all happened very fast and it's not clear whether she was even able to notice what it was that got her. She does seem to have a healthy respect  when she sees a bee. So maybe she learned that buzzing things are best left alone. I hope so.

Did your dog ever get stung by a bee or a wasp?

Note: The typical dose of Benadryl for dogs is 1-2 mg per pound of body weight.

Further reading:
Bee & Wasp Stings - Be(e) Prepared
Protect Your Dog From Snake Bites
More Creepy Crawlies

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
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Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
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Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
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Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
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Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
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The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

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  1. Rodrigo has been stung a couple of times when he was young. He and Sydney found an underground bee hive (when I first learned that they could be underground) and that wasn't a happy day.

    1. Oh no, poor Rodrigo. Never saw a bee hive under ground either. But this bald-faced hornet nest turned out to be partially above and partially under ground too.

  2. Poor Cookie. Our Sally got stung by a bee when she was a pup. We were brand new pup parents, so she was raced to the vet. Luckily the swelling went down quickly and that's the only run-in we've had (knock on wood)

    1. Poor Sally; glad she didn't have any major reaction to it. Great that was the only such incident. Cookie seems to have learned from this; though I was wondering about that as it all happened so quickly. She seems to have a new found respect for things that buzz loudly. Ideal lesson - as it was just one sting.

      We were ready to rush to the vet too if the swelling got worse etc. Fortunately, it went down pretty quickly.


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