Jacaranda Tree Flower Blooms Increase Likelihood of Bee Sting Hypersensitivity Reactions in Pets

May 12, 2010

Photo of Jacaranda Trees Downtown Los Angeles Photo Credit lumierefl on Flickr

The beautiful, purple flowers of the Jacaranda tree are a sight I look forward to every spring in West Hollywood. Their burgeoning color adds brightness to the often hazy “May gray” and “June gloom” overcast weather that dulls the Los Angeles sunshine. Unfortunately, there is a noticeable increase in the number of bee sting hypersensitivity reactions affecting dogs during the Jacaranda blooming season.

Photo of Jacaranda Tree Flowers Photo Credit Miheco on Flickr

Fallen Jacaranda tree flowers blanket the grass, sidewalks, and streets attracting pollen harvesting bees. Curious canines may unknowingly encounter a venomous insect buzzing around Jacaranda flowers when inspecting their preferred substrate for a place to urinate or defecate.

In my clinical practice, I see dogs with bee stings imbedded in various body parts, including their paws, legs, face, and tongue. The venom from the sting causes a hypersensitivity reaction, which may be mild or severe. Severe reactions can be potentially life threatening. All manifestations of a suspected or confirmed insect envenomation merit evaluation by a veterinarian.

Clinical signs of this form of hypersensitivity are typically sudden onset and include (but are not exclusive to):

Hives (medical term = urticaria)

Swelling (angioedema)

Redness (erythema)
Pain to the touch
Lameness

Disorientation
Stumbling (ataxia)
Vomit (emesis)
Diarrhea

Pale pink or white gums

Low body temperature (hypothermia)

Low blood pressure (hypotension)

One notable case of bee sting hypersensitivity involved a puppy that presented on an emergency basis for mild signs of sniffling and increased frequency of swallowing. The puppy’s physical exam was within normal limits except for a visibly swollen tongue which was painful to the touch. He was sedated for a deeper oral evaluation, which yielded a bee stinger imbedded in the poor pooch’s tongue. He responded well to treatment and quickly returned to his normal, playful self.

Should you suspect your pet has incurred a bee sting, or other hypersensitivity reaction, administering an antihistamine can potentially help to combat the histamine releasing effects of the insect envenomation. Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride (Benadryl) can be given by mouth at a dose of 1-2 mg per pound of body weight. Your pet should still have an evaluation and treatment by a veterinarian in these cases, as there could potentially be life threatening complications from the hypersensitivity reaction.

Feel free to email me about other seasonal potential health concerns that could affect your pet!

Thank you,
Patrick Mahaney VMD CVA
Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist
California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness (CPAW), Inc.

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