What is Spiders Poisoning?
Most of the spiders in the United States do not have severely painful bites, and only a few of the spiders in the United States are poisonous to the point of the dog requiring serious medical attention and possible hospitalization. Usually when a spider bite occurs, the spider doesn’t stay around and it is hard to identify that that is the problem the dog is having.
Even though many of the spiders are relatively harmless or may only require a small amount of medical attention, there are a few poisonous ones. These include spiders from the widow group, and the most common spider from this group is black widow spider. Another poisonous spider comes from a brown spider group called the brown recluse spider. Tarantulas are known to be relatively harmless to humans even though their bite is quite painful; however, dogs are more susceptible to tarantula venom than humans and immediate medical attention is required. Black widows, brown recluse, and tarantula bites can be very serious if they are not treated in a timely manner or at all. All three of these spiders can cause death if the dog is not taken to the veterinarian and properly treated.
Spider poisoning in dogs occurs when a spider, possessing toxic venom, inflict a bit upon a dog. The poison from the venom causes severe inflammation that requires immediate medical attention.
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Symptoms of Spiders Poisoning in Dogs
When a dog becomes a victim of a poisonous spider, the symptoms will vary from mild to severe. Symptoms depend on the type of spider that has bitten the dog. Symptoms include:
- Trouble breathing
- Pain at the site of the bite
- Muscle stiffness
- Abdominal stiffness
- Abdominal tenderness
- Rapid and shallow breathing
- Muscle cramps
- Lesion at the site of the bite
- Red ring around the bite area
- Joint pain
It may be difficult to witness the actual spider bite, and oftentimes the type of spider that has bitten the dog may be unknown. Types of spiders that are poisonous to dogs include:
- Brown recluse
- Black widow
- Red widow
- Brown widow
- Wolf spider
- Brazilian wandering spider
- Yellow sac spider
Causes of Spiders Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of spider poisoning in dogs is the injection of toxic venom into a dog by biting. There are many species of spiders, and the different species have a different level of poison in the venom. The spider bite is toxic because of:
- The fangs penetrate the skin and inject venom from the holes in the fangs
- The venom is projected through ducts inside the fangs, which lead to the venom glands
- Neurotoxin enters the dog’s bloodstream and can lead to the harmful symptoms, including paralysis and sometimes death
Diagnosis of Spiders Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog is showing any symptoms of a spider bite, it is important to take him to the vet immediately. The veterinarian will ask you questions pertaining to the spider bite, such as if you witnessed the spider around the dog. More than likely the symptoms will occur after the bite, and unfortunately it is common to not see the spider that bit the dog. The veterinarian will perform tests and then rely on the dog’s clinical signs to make the diagnosis.
The veterinarian will perform a biochemistry profile (to check organ function), blood work, test for electrolytes, and urinalysis. While these tests do take time to come back and possibly show any venom, the veterinarian must go ahead and treat the dog according to the dog symptoms, including the site and area around the bite.
Treatment of Spiders Poisoning in Dogs
To treat a spider bite, the methods may vary depending on the type of spider that bit your dog. For example, if a brown recluse spider bit the dog there will be other methods of treatment since the spider is highly poisonous.
The treatment for your dog’s spider bite will depend on the severity, how the dog is reacting to the bite, and the type of spider.
The first thing the veterinarian will do is thoroughly cleanse the affected area around the bite.
Pain medication along with an ice will be given. Corticosteroids can also protect against further impact upon the system. Muscle relaxants or morphine may be given to help with the pain.
In order to prevent a serious infection, especially in cases of brown recluse spider bites, antibiotics may be given. Dapsone inhibits the function of leukocytes and is the antibiotic of choice to treat brown recluse spider venom. Anti-venom may be given for bites from black widows. Also, tetanus antitoxin is often given especially if the dog has never had a tetanus shot.
Oxygen therapy may be given to help the dog breathe in cases of severe spider bites.
Along with the above methods of treatment, the veterinarian may administer fluids to the dog through an IV. This will help keep the dog hydrated, and along with the oxygen therapy, will help keep his blood pressure down.
The type of spider that has bitten your dog will determine if there is an antivenin to help treat the spider bite, for example, there is an antivenin for black widow spider bites.
Recovery of Spiders Poisoning in Dogs
In terms of recovery and management for spider bite poisoning, it depends on the type of spider that inflicted a bite upon your dog. It also depends on the severity of his condition. If the dog was able to get to a veterinarian after the bite within a timely manner, prognosis is good. Once your dog comes home after treatment, it is important to keep checking the site of the bite for any changes in to alert the veterinarian if new symptoms or behavioral changes occur. The veterinarian will give instructions on how to properly care for your dog after treatment, and may request a follow-up appointment to check on his healing.
Spiders Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I adopted a German Shepard 2 months ago. At the time the current caretaker said she had a spider bite on her leg and to keep clean it with peroxide - which I did for the next week or so. It seemed healed. But even though it's seems mostly disappeared she licks it a lot still, it's a dark color on the fur where the bite was located- I'm just worried :(
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I adopted a 5 year old blue nose pitbull from animal control in NYC 2.5 weeks ago. He had CIRDC and completed his antibiotics. When he came home, he had a spot on his R thigh that he was edgy about if we pet over it. 2 days ago, his fur started looking funny on that spot and since that time, the skin has peeled away completely. I think it is down to the muscle. I am a people nurse, and the wound looks healthy and not infected, with good blood flow to the wound edges. I've been cleansing 2x daily with chlorhexidine 2% and applying bacitracin x 24 hours. My thought is that he may have been bitten by something...rat, spider, etc. At this point, I'm wondering if he should be seen by a vet or only if it worsens.
It would be best to visit your Veterinarian as there is always the danger of secondary infection and to assess if there is any other underlying cause. For the meantime, continue to clean the wound as you are doing to make sure it is free of dirt and debris. I cannot really comment further without examining the wound. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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