Spiders are some of the smallest aggressive animals that we face on a day to day basis, yet for many people, they are also the scariest. And not without good reason: some species of spider can deliver highly venomous bites, with symptoms that range from localized irritation to organ failure. For this reason, many people will be quick to get medical treatment if they have been attacked by such an arachnid. Naturally, those of us who spend a lot of time working outside and in areas of buildings that are often home to spiders are the most at risk, but seemingly random attacks can occur too, making it important for people in some regions to be familiar with the early symptoms of a bite. However, can dogs also fall prey to spider bites?
Can Dogs Get Spider Bites?
Our pets love to spend time outside and investigating nooks and crannies where spiders tend to seek shelter, so are likely to encounter an unfriendly spider at some point. Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to the poisons that spiders can deliver into the body and can run a risk of developing serious complications. This is especially true due to the fact that their skin is almost entirely covered by fur, sometimes making a bite hard to detect until it becomes a serious problem. If you suspect that your dog has fallen victim to an attack by a poisonous spider, seek veterinary help as soon as possible.
Does My Dog Have A Spider Bite?
Spider bites tend to be characterized by some fairly nondescript symptoms early on, making it hard to determine the severity of the issue at first. However, directly observing the bite mark itself can help a vet determine exactly what species was responsible, using factors such as abrasion and lividity patterns. After being bitten, the dog may start to lick the area in an attempt to soothe any discomfort he is feeling. This can often be accompanied by audible whining. After a short while, the bite area will start to turn dark red or even purple and the dog may start to become nauseous or start vomiting. Severe bites can also cause your dog to become disorientated and experience breathing difficulties, with the animal becoming unwilling to engage in physical activity.
These symptoms are due to the oftentimes neurotoxic effects of the spider’s venom, which will shut down enzymes that allow nerves to transmit signals through the body, resulting in discomfort and organ failure. When you present the dog to a vet, they will oftentimes be able to move straight to the treatment phase if you happened to observe exactly what type of spider attacked the dog. In other cases, however, the vet will use a physical inspection of the dog (including an appraisal of their symptoms) and the bite itself. The information gleaned from this will then be combined with a blood test to determine exactly what toxin is present in their body.
For more information on spider bites and their effects, be sure to read through our condition guide on the topic, Spider Poisoning in Dogs .
How Can I Treat My Dog’s Spider Bite?
Once your vet has managed to determine the exact nature of the spider venom that is provoking negative symptoms in your dog, they will be able to embark on a course of treatment. In the majority of cases, the dog will be able to get better with some simple rest and relaxation, allowing its body to filter out the poisons by itself. To aid in this, the vet may provide the dog with intravenous fluid, which will help remove the toxins from the bloodstream by provoking urination. In more severe cases, the vet may have to use the results of the blood tests in order to select an anti-venom drug with which to neutralize the spider’s poison. Generally speaking, the recovery period after treatment will depend on the exact type of spider that bit the dog, with the most benign only needing a couple of days before the effects wear off and the more dangerous ones necessitating weeks of recuperation. That said, the dog may also require additional help such as antibiotics to help prevent dead tissue around the bite from causing an infection.
To hear testimony from dog owners whose pets have been bitten by spiders and to consult with one of our in-house vets, feel free to check out our condition guide at Spider Poisoning in Dogs .
How Are Spider Bites Similar in Dogs and Humans?
Although taxonomically different in a vast number of respects, dogs and humans do share some attributes when it comes to dealing with spider bites.
Dogs and humans are relatively large animals, meaning that widespread damage from spider bites is unusual in the vast majority of cases.
Even small bites can result in tissue around the wound being killed and becoming necrotic, meaning that the state of the bite should be closely monitored. Antibiotics may be required in order to prevent a resultant infection.
Anti-venom is often in short supply, meaning that it is unlikely that a vet will have some available to treat the bite of a spider that is not native to your region.
How Are Spider Bites Different in Dogs and Humans?
Due to the discrepancies in human and dog physiologies, there are some notable differences in the way they are affected by spider bites.
The lividity produced by a poisonous bite will show up much easier on a human due to their lack of fur, which may also have the effect of making it easier for foreign debris to enter a resultant sore, causing an infection.
Due to the size disparity between humans and many species of dog, bites that would only cause serious illness in a person can often prove lethal for the canine. For this reason, prompt treatment is essential.
After their dog ventures into the basement one day, a family hears the animal yelp in alarm and come running back upstairs. After the basement is checked, the family finds no sign of an intruder and thus disregards the incident. However, within a few minutes, the dog has begun to whine and lick at its foreleg, where a large red mark is discovered. A little while later, the dog starts to vomit and pant excessively. Fearing that they have been bitten by a poisonous tarantula that is common in their area, the family takes the dog to the vet, who after analyzing the dog’s symptoms and a sample of its blood confirms the diagnosis. Fortunately, due to the large population of the spider in the region, the vet has anti-venom in stock and uses it to treat the dog. Within a few hours, the animal seems much better and after a week of rest makes a full recovery.