Spider bites aren't a common occurrence when it comes to dogs, but they can happen and owners should know what to do. Here, our Bellevue vets discuss everything pet owners should know about spider bites on dogs, and what to do if your pup has been beaten.
What Does a Spider Bite Look Like on a Dog
Most spider bites are harmless unless your dog has an allergic reaction. Typically a spider bite will cause your pup some minor irritation, itchiness, and maybe a little swelling, or redness. There are only two species of spiders in North America that are dangerous to humans and pets: the black widow and the brown recluse. If your pooch gets bitten by either of these spiders, veterinary attention is required because bites from these spiders can cause serious side effects.
There are very few tell-tail signs to look out for to determine if your dog has been bit by a spider and how serious it is.
Most of the spiders found in the Bellevue area simply can't produce enough venom to harm your dog, or you for that matter. Their bites appear as small red bumps, similar to mosquito bites, and cause hardly any irritation to your dog. They can be treated in several natural ways, mainly focused on itch relief. Some dogs may not even notice any irritation at all.
The following are the two types of venomous spiders and their bites that Bellevue pet owners should keep an eye out for:
Black Widow - Symptoms from a black widow spider bite can begin to appear soon after your dog is bitten. The bite itself is painful and causes swelling and redness in the area. Thankfully, 15% of bites from black widow spiders are considered "dry", or non-venomous.
Female black widow spiders are the most dangerous, and they tend to live in warm, dark, and secluded places such as a woodpile or shed. These spiders are small, black, and have a red hourglass marking on their body. If they do inject your dog with venom, you will see symptoms such as cramping, muscle pain, drooling, or vomiting. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the nearest emergency vet clinic.
Brown Recluse - It can be very difficult to spot a recent bite from a brown recluse spider. They tend to be painless, but will generally leave a red mark at the site. However, over time your dog will develop a white blister with a bulls-eye or tissue destruction in the surrounding area.
Brown recluse spiders live in quiet, undisturbed areas like closets and typically need to be agitated to bite. The first sign to look out for in your dog would be limping. Your dog might avoid putting pressure on the bite. In the most severe cases, the symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite on a dog may include bleeding, seizures, or respiratory collapse. If you think a brown recluse has bitten your dog, contact your vet for emergency care.
Treating Spider Bites on Dogs
Our Bellevue vets are often asked how to treat a spider bite on a dog. The best first step if you believe that your pup has been bitten by a spider is to call your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to help you determine whether you should take your dog to your local emergency vet clinic or give you treatment options at home. They might even give you the best news, that your pooch doesn't need treatment at all.
If you happen to see the spider that bit your dog, capture it in a jar so your vet can identify the venom and start treatment sooner. If you're concerned about the spider being dangerous, remain at a safe distance and take a photo. Unfortunately in many cases, the effects of a spider bite don't show up until much later, in that case, your vet will try to determine the type of bite by the look of the area and any symptoms your pet is exhibiting.
The treatment for spider bites in dogs will vary depending on the spider in question but may include an antivenin for black widow spider bites, pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and IV fluids.
There are no antivenom medications available for Brown Recluse spiders. If your dog receives a bite from a Brown Recluse spider your veterinary team will use cool compresses and thorough cleaning. In some cases, antibiotics may be necessary to help fight infection. Most bites heal within three weeks. Complications and death are very rare when dealing with a Brown Recluse spider bite in dogs. Wounds may require surgical treatment in severe cases and permanent scarring is a possibility or leave permanent scarring.
Antivenom is available for Black Widow spider bites in dogs although allergic reactions to this drug are common. That said, your vet will be able to supply medications to minimize the symptoms of an allergic reaction in your dog. Other medications that may be prescribed for your pooch if they are bitten by a Black Widow Spider include pain meds and muscle relaxers.
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.