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Spider Bites on Dogs

While spiders generally prefer to hide away, certain circumstances can result in them having contact with your pup. In the case of a scared spider, it can result in a bite which can be potentially dangerous. Here, our Memphis emergency vets discuss the symptoms and treatment of both venomous and non-venomous spider bites on dogs.

What does a spider bite look like on a dog?

Most spider bites pose no harm to your dog unless it's allergic to spiders. A spider bite usually causes minor irritation, itchiness, swelling, or redness in your dog. In North America, only two spider species—the black widow and the brown recluse—pose a danger to humans and pets. If your dog gets bitten by either of these spiders, it requires immediate veterinary care, as their bites can result in severe side effects.

Identifying whether a spider has bitten your dog and assessing the severity of the bite entails observing very few telltale signs.

What are the symptoms of a spider bite on a dog?

Non-Venomous Bites

In the Memphis area, most spiders lack sufficient venom to harm your dog or you. They bite in a way similar to mosquitoes, causing minimal discomfort to your dog. You can naturally treat these bites in various ways, focusing primarily on relieving itching. Some dogs may not even notice any discomfort.

Venomous Bites

While many different types of spiders in Tennessee are considered potentially dangerous, we'd like to focus on two of the most common venomous spiders; the black widow and the brown recluse. Here are some of the typical symptoms of each of these spiders:

Black Widow: Symptoms of a black widow spider bite can appear soon after your dog has been bitten. The bite itself is painful, causing swelling and redness in the affected area.

Female black widow spiders, which tend to live in warm, dark, and secluded places like woodpiles or sheds, are the most dangerous. They have a red hourglass marking on their bodies. If they inject venom into your dog, you may observe symptoms such as cramping, muscle pain, drooling, or vomiting. If you notice these symptoms, take your dog to your primary vet or our after-hours emergency vet clinic.

Brown Recluse: Detecting a recent bite from a brown recluse spider can prove challenging. These bites typically remain painless initially, manifesting only as a red mark at the site. However, your dog will eventually develop a white blister with a bulls-eye or tissue destruction in the surrounding area.

Brown recluse spiders inhabit quiet, undisturbed areas such as closets and usually require agitation to provoke a bite. The first sign of concern in your dog would be limping or avoiding putting pressure on the bite. In severe cases, symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite on a dog may include bleeding, seizures, or respiratory collapse. Should you suspect a brown recluse bite on your dog, promptly contact your primary vet or our after-hours emergency veterinary hospital for care.

How to Treat a Spider Bite on a Dog

Our veterinarians frequently encounter cases of spider bites in dogs at Memphis. If you suspect a spider has bitten your dog, promptly contact your veterinarian. They can advise whether immediate attention at an emergency vet clinic is necessary or if you can manage treatment at home. They might even determine that your dog doesn't require any treatment at all.

If you spot the spider responsible for the bite, capture it in a jar. This allows your vet to identify the venom and initiate treatment as soon as possible. If you have concerns about the spider's potential danger, maintain a safe distance and take a photograph. Unfortunately, the effects of a spider bite don't always manifest immediately. In such cases, your vet will attempt to identify the type of bite based on the appearance of the affected area and any symptoms your pet is displaying.

Treatment for spider bites in dogs varies depending on the spider involved. It may include administering antivenom (also referred to as antivenin) and providing pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and intravenous fluids.

Brown recluse: There are no antivenoms available. If your dog has a brown recluse spider bite, your veterinarian will treat it with cool compresses and thorough cleaning. In some cases, antibiotics may be necessary to prevent infection. Most bites typically heal within three weeks or less. While complications and fatalities from brown recluse spider bites in dogs are exceedingly rare, severe cases may require surgical treatment, with the potential for permanent scarring.

Black widow spider: Antivenom is available for black widow spider bites in dogs, but allergic reactions to this medication are common. Nevertheless, your veterinarian can provide medications to alleviate allergic reaction symptoms in your dog. Additionally, if your dog is bitten by a black widow spider, pain relievers and muscle relaxers may be prescribed as part of the treatment plan.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog experiencing symptoms that may indicate a venomous spider bite? Contact our Memphis Vets immediately for urgent care for your canine companion.

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