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Spider Bites and Dogs – Tarantulas, Brown Recluse, Black Widow and Brown Widow

Spider bites can be a nuisance for both humans and animals, but they can be particularly dangerous when they happen in dogs. Depending on the exact species of spider, some dogs can go into anaphylactic shock and exhibit a number of symptoms that should tell you that you need to take your canine friend to the vet as soon as possible.

In today’s article, we’ll look at the clinical signs that a dog can show after being bit by a spider, especially one such as the Brown Recluse, but we’ll also look at several home remedies that you can use when your pooch has been bitten by a less dangerous spider.

The most dangerous spiders found in North America

There are four species of spiders that can pose a health risk to your dog and they are the following:

  • Tarantulas
  • Brown Recluse
  • Black Widow
  • Brown Widow

Every one of these causes different symptoms, but the biggest problem is that they do not do so immediately. For example, if your canine buddy has been bitten by a Brown Recluse, it might take up to four days for your dog to show any clinical signs. Tarantula bites cause symptoms in at least eight hours.

General symptoms

If your dog wasn’t unlucky enough to have been bitten by one of the species that we have mentioned above, he or she will exhibit the following clinical signs:

  • Redness, pain, and inflammation at the bite site
  • Local irritation
  • Muscle pain and reluctance to use the leg where the bite has happened
  • Fever and lethargy
  • Drooling (a sign that the poison has gotten into the dog’s blood)
  • Tremors
  • A weak pulse
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

If you are the pet guardian of a long-haired dog, you should know that finding the spider bite can be extremely challenging. Dogs can, however, show some symptoms that could tell you that there is a local lesion that you need to search for as they’ll lick or bite an area of their body excessively.

Symptoms caused by a Brown Recluse spider bite

Picture of a brown recluse spider

  • A red, painful, or itchy skin lesion or one with a bulls-eye effect
  • Black tissue surrounding the spider bite
  • Inflammation at the site of the bite

Since the venom of the spider can take up to 2-4 days to cause a generalized infection, it will take a while for you to notice any severe symptoms. Once these do show up, here’s what you’ll see in your dog:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Edemas
  • Continuous thirst
  • Tremors, convulsions, shock

Symptoms caused by a Black Widow bite 

Picture of a Black Widow Spider

  • Pain and redness at the bite site
  • Muscle pain and cramping on that leg
  • Vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea
  • A state of agitation

Are there dogs that are more exposed to developing severe symptoms?

The short answer to this question is a hard yes. Dogs that have a history of having immune deficiencies, including puppies and senior dogs that live with chronic diseases are more exposed to developing more severe symptoms.

The same rule applies in the case of dogs that are known to have a history of high blood pressure or cardiovascular problems, in general. Dogs that have kidney health issues are also at a higher risk as they have a harder time getting rid of the venom using their excretory system.

Can you use any home remedies for a spider bite on your dog?

If you know that you live in an area where there are any of the species of spiders highlighted above, we would advise you to first seek out the medical assistance of a veterinary professional rather than resorting to any home remedies.

As we have already noted, some spider venoms take as many as 4 days to cause severe symptoms, and by that time, even a vet might find it impossible to save your dog.

There are some home remedies that you can resort to if you believe that your dog was bitten by a less dangerous spider.

  1. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is known to be capable of reducing inflammation and itchiness, especially in dogs that tend to develop dermatitis on a regular basis. You can apply some aloe vera gel on the skin lesion that you suspect is a spider bite and if it hasn’t been caused by a dangerous species, the swelling will go down in a couple of hours.

Make sure to apply the gel several times a day for at least a couple of days just to be on the safe side of things.

  1. Baking soda

You can create a baking soda paste by mixing one part water with three parts baking soda. This one works especially for skin lesions that are suppurating and it has a scarring effect. It shouldn’t be applied to highly inflamed lesions or those that have caused an abscess that has opened up and there’s puss going out of it.

Applying a baking soda paste on a spider bite can cause more harm than good if it’s an open lesion.

  1. Local treatments

There is, of course, the option of you opting for a much milder home remedy, in that you can apply cold compresses to the spider bite site along with anti-inflammatory gels. Just make sure that your pooch doesn’t try to lick or bite that area once you’ve applied the ointment or gel so that he doesn’t accidentally ingest it.

If you want to use antibiotics or pain medication, always get in touch with a veterinarian as they are the appropriate person to prescribe you safe drugs for treating the spider bite. Do not try to use any human-grade pharmaceutical products for this purpose as they can be dangerous and some of them can even be toxic to pets.

Is there a way of preventing your dog from being bitten by a spider?

The best piece of advice that we can give you is to make sure that your home and garden are spider-free. Since most spiders love dark and hidden places such as the wall corners in your attic, basement, or your shed, you should clean them often and also avoid leaving your dog to get into them.

You should also take some time to get well-acquainted with the dangerous species that we have mentioned and the way they look. This will tell you when there is a potentially health-threatening species in your yard or home and if you have to clean it thoroughly and even use an insecticide to get rid of it.

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