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Spider bites on dogs

Updated on November 19, 2013

Dogs are curious animals. This curious nature causes them to encounter strange, crawly creatures living in darkened corners and spaces. A majority of such creatures tend to inflict harm on dogs when they are bothered. Spiders are at the forefront when it comes to attacking curious dogs.

Spiders can be found just about anywhere, in the outdoors as well as inside human dwellings. There are many kinds of spiders that do not attack spiders. However, there are varied other spider species such as the hobo spider, the black widow, and the brown recluse which are known to inflict grievous injuries, pain, and severe reactions in dogs.

Most spiders do not have venom. Their bites may only result in the formation of red swellings that look like big mosquito bites on a dog’s skin. Dogs who have been bitten by non-poisonous spiders may also elicit pain. All the signs are visible only after some hours after the bite. There is no immediate pain felt by dogs after spider bites. Hence, the spiders are able to crawl away without getting noticed.

It may however be noted that the venom passed on by the black widow, hobo spider, and the brown recluse can result in extensive harm to the different body systems in dogs and also cause fatal reactions.

Symptoms and treatments of spider bites on dogs

Spider bites on dogs inflicted by venomous spider species can cause many adverse symptoms, the severity of which depends on the type of spider that bites the dog.

Spider bites on dogs can result in vomiting, breathing anomalies, inflammation of the dog skin, and sometimes even death. Pet owners who notice such symptoms on their dogs must consult a vet for proper diagnosis and relevant treatment.

Discussed below are the symptoms and treatments of spider bites caused by the three most dangerous species of venomous spiders, i.e. the black window, the brown recluse, and hobo spiders.

Black Widow Spider Bites on Dogs: Owners who are sure of a black widow spider bite on their pet need to immediately take it to a vet for treatment. The venom of black widow can cause deadly reactions in dogs. Large to medium sized dogs can experience severe reactions while smaller dogs can die.

The symptoms of black widow spider bites on dogs include:

  • Inflexible muscles

  • Elevated levels of pain

  • Tremors of the muscles. It can ultimately lead to paralysis

  • Increased amounts of poison in the body can result in death of the dog

  • Black widow spiders eject a neurotoxin when they bite. Such toxins are responsible for muscle cramps and adverse actions on the nerve synapses. It can also cause cramping of the diaphragm which can result in shallow and rapid breathing as well as other respiratory problems.

Treatment of black widow spider bites on dogs include:

  • Affected dogs need to be taken to a vet where they will be given intravenous fluids. Delay in treatment can result in death of the dog.

  • Muscles spasms and cramping are eased via muscle relaxants

  • Breathing assistance is also provided during the stay at the clinic.

  • The dogs need to stay at the clinic for a few days till the symptoms improve.

Brown Recluse Spider Bites on Dogs: Affected dogs will not feel any pain immediately after a brown recluse spider bite. The adverse symptoms may be visible only after two to three hours. Pet owners need to seek medical assistance as soon as they notice the abnormal symptoms.

The symptoms of brown recluse spider bites on dogs are as follows:

  • A few minutes after the spider bite, the capillaries in affected dogs will start constricting. The bite site will elicit swelling and a visible wound will develop within two to six hours.

  • Pain, fever, and nausea may then have a gradual onset

  • The bite site will develop a blister after the passage of about 12 hours.

Treatment of brown recluse spider bites on dogs includes:

  • It is important to ensure that affected dogs get relevant treatment within 7 to ten days from the spider bite. Untreated instances will result in tissue damage in and around the bite site.

  • The vet will prescribe corticosteroids for pain relief and other medications as per the individual cases. Ice packs can also be used to soothe the affected site.

  • The wound may fully heal over a period of many months. The wound area has a tendency to form black necrotic tissue. It is possible for such tissue to fall off and reveal the muscles present beneath. Such a situation can pose increased risks of infections. Hence, pet owners need to consult a vet whenever they notice black necrotic tissue.

Hobo Spider Bites on Dogs:

  • Hobo spiders also release necrotic venom via their bites, which results in breakdown of cell structures and eventually tissue death.

  • Other symptoms include development of itchy red lesions, abnormal bleeding, and growth of cysts and a white ring around the bite site.

  • Treatment of hobo spider bites on dogs is the same as brown recluse spider bite treatment.


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