Would you know a dog spider bite if you saw one and would you know how to treat it correctly? This is a medical issue that many dog owners have to face. Spiders are everywhere! There are over 30,000 species throughout the world and most of them produce a type of venom. However, because their mouthparts are so small, most cannot pierce a dog’s skin and therefore do not have a bite that is of medical significance. There are a small number of spiders that cause nasty bites on dogs and it is important that you can recognize these. Here we outline the main facts you need to know about spider bites on dogs and how to deal with them.
Spider Bites That Need to Concern Dog Owners
Whilst most spider bites are harmless, some are more serious. There are two groups of spiders that can produce a spider bite on dog skin that requires your intervention. The first group is the widow spiders which are known as the Latrodectus. This group includes the infamous Black Widow Spider but four other species in this group are also found in the US. They prefer tropical and temperate environments and the female is larger and more venomous. These spiders are dark grey or black and have a red or orange hourglass pattern on their abdomen. Immature females are red, brown or beige and have no markings.
The second group is the recluse spiders which are known as the Loxosceles. This group contains the Brown Recluse Spider which likes to live in warm, dark places. Again, it is the female that is larger and more venomous. These spiders are yellow-brown in color and have a distinctive violin-like pattern on their back. As their name suggest, the Brown Recluse Spider likes to live alone and does not go looking for trouble. You will only have to treat a Brown Recluse bite on dog skin if the spider has been cornered or trapped and this often happens if they are trapped between your dog and its bedding.
The main culprits for causing dangerous bites to dogs in the US are Black Widow, Brown Widow, Brown Recluse and Tarantulas.
Spider Bite Symptoms in Dogs
Spider bite symptoms in dogs will vary by the type of spider that caused it.
Black Widow Spider Bites
Black widow spider bites trigger symptoms within eight hours. If your dog has received a dry bite, which is a bite with no venom, then there will be very few symptoms.
Typically, a spider bite will cause pain in the affected area and redness and swelling. However, if there was a lot of venom released into the wound, there will also be cramping, muscle pain and diarrhea, possibly with tremors, agitation and vomiting.
Brown Recluse Spider Bites
A brown recluse bite on dog skin causes no pain initially. There may be some redness and a blister may develop within two and eight hours. The blister often has a distinctive bulls-eye appearance with a pale area being surrounded by a red circle. This indicates that a worrying amount of venom has been injected into your dog’s body.
A dog that has been bitten by a spider is likely to show irritation and signs of being in pain. There will also be redness and swelling. Other possible symptoms include fever, weakness, puss, an increased heart rate, lethargy and trouble walking. These are serious symptoms and you should always consult a vet at this stage.
The first thing you notice may be your dog yelping and whining and licking excessively at one spot on their body indicating pain.
5 Ways to Deal With a Spider Bite on a Dog
Every spider bite is different. If your dog is in obvious distress, you must always consult a vet and ask them how to treat a spider bite on a dog. Your dog may need antivenin medication which is given intravenously. Here are the five ways to treat a spider bite on a dog at home.
- Catch the spider
If it is safe for you to do so, try and catch the spider. That way, you will be able to show the vet which spider has bitten your dog if they need medical attention.
- Washing the wound
Washing the wound is often helpful. You can use soap (or dog shampoo) and water. Afterwards, apply a cold compress to the bite and repeat for a couple of days. Pain medication can also be useful.
- Apply a potato poultice
You can make a potato poultice by wrapping freshly grated potato in a thin cloth. This can help to reduce inflammation. Keep the poultice in place until the potato is dry. You can repeat this as many times as is necessary.
- Use baking soda paste
Another healing substance that is commonly found in the home is baking soda. You can mix it into a paste by adding water. Smear it on the spider bite and repeat several times a day. A thick paste is obtained by mixing three parts baking soda with one part water.
- Aloe Vera products
Aloe Vera is a great home remedy for spider bite on dog skin but you need a product that is made especially for dogs. Do not use the gel direct from a plant as it will make dogs ill if they lick it. Aloe vera has natural healing and soothing properties. It reduces inflammation and irritation. Follow the instructions on the label.
The Last Word
Most spider bites are harmless to dogs and can be treated perfectly well at home with things that you already have in the house. The aim is to reduce inflammation and discomfort. However, some bites are more serious and even deadly. Do not assume that your dog is past the danger period because some serious symptoms do not appear until several hours after the bite. Keep a close eye on your pooch and consult the vet if their condition changes.