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How to Recognize Spider Bites on Dogs

While spiders are typically happy to hide from you and your pet, spider bites do occasionally occur. In some cases, our San Gabriel vets treat dogs with severe symptoms of spider bites that require urgent care. However, most spider bites may cause some irritation but are generally harmless. Learn more about how to spot and treat the symptoms of a spider bite on a dog in this post.

What does a spider bite look like on a dog?

Typically, a spider bite will cause minor irritation on your pooch's skin and will likely be harmless unless your dog has an allergic reaction. You may see some minor itchiness, irritation, redness, or swelling. 

Just two species of spiders in North America are dangerous to both pets and humans: the black widow and the brown recluse. If your pooch is bitten by either of these spiders, you'll need to bring your dog to the vet for treatment, as these spider bites can trigger serious side effects. 

Naturally, your next question will probably be, "What are the symptoms of a spider bite on a dog?". There are actually very few indicators to watch for to determine whether your dog has been bitten by a spider and how serious their symptoms are. 

Non-Venomous Bites 

Most spiders found in the San Gabriel area simply can't produce enough venom to harm your dog, or you. Similar to mosquito bites, their bites appear as small red bumps and cause barely any irritation to your dog.

Venomous Bites 

Keep an eye out for venomous spiders, as their bites can cause severe symptoms. Here are some more details about each:

Black Widow - Female black widow spiders are considered the most dangerous. Symptoms of a black widow spider bite can start to appear soon after your dog is bitten. These bites are painful and will likely cause redness and swelling. Fortunately, 15% of black widow spider bites are considered "dry" or non-venomous. 

Female black widow spiders tend to live in warm, dark, and secluded areas such as a shed or woodpile. These spiders are small and black. Their bodies are marked with a red hourglass. If they do inject your dog with venom, you may notice symptoms like drooling, muscle pain, cramping, or vomiting. If you see any of these symptoms, take your dog to the nearest emergency vet clinic

Brown Recluse - These spider bites can be very difficult to spot. While they tend to be painless, you'll generally see a red mark at the site. However, over time a white blister with a bulls-eye typically develops. Tissue in the surrounding area will likely also be destroyed. 

Brown recluse spiders live in quiet, undisturbed areas and typically need to be agitated to bite. Limping is a common sign of a brown recluse spider bite. Your dog may avoid putting pressure on the area of the bite. In the most severe cases, symptoms of a bite from a brown recluse spider may include bleeding, seizures, or respiratory collapse. If you suspect your dog has been bitten by a brown recluse spider, contact your vet for emergency care

How to Treat a Spider Bite on a Dog

Call your veterinarian if you believe that your pooch has been bitten by a spider. Your vet will be able to help you determine whether to take your dog to your local emergency vet clinic or recommend at-home treatment options. They might even tell you that your pup doesn't need any treatment. 

Natural treatment remedies, such as applying ice packs to the affected area, can help relieve itching and reduce swelling and irritation. Some dogs may not even experience any irritation at all. Other home remedies for non-venomous bites include washing with soap and water and making a paste containing baking soda and water. Try to keep your dog from excessively licking or scratching the bite. 

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 dog spider bites will vary depending on the spider, but it 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 include pain medications and muscle relaxers.

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

Is your dog experiencing symptoms of a venomous spider bite? Contact our San Gabriel vets right away to arrange urgent care for your four-legged friend.

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