Spider Bites on Dogs


Poisonous spiders like the female black widows or Latrodectus and brown recluse or Loxosceles target cats and dogs the most with their toxic venom affecting different parts of their body that varies according to the type of spider. Some poisonous spiders have so many toxins in their bites that it can make the dog critically ill. The bite can also be fatal. Thus, to identify the signs of a spider bit is important along with a timely medical intervention. A lot of poisonous spiders are found in the United States that attack usually animals and humans. However not all of them have the strong fangs to reach into the dog’s thick skin. The most dangerous ones with the strength and ability to penetrate into the dog’s skin are: black widow, brown widow and the brown recluse spiders.

Identifying the spiders


Black widow spiders

Found mostly in the North of America (except Alaska). Their length ranges from 2-2.5 cm and are black and shiny in color but the females (immature ones) are brown and more toxic. They carry the venom which is called neurotoxin. The symptoms of being bitten by this species are:

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  1. Unbearable muscle pain
  2. Frequent cramping
  3. Difficulty in walking
  4. Paralytic attacks
  5. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

Treatment for this bite includes: using an anti-venom or anti-seizure medications, IV Fluids, and SSU (symptomatic supportive care). However the first and the most important thing to be done is to see a veterinarian or Pet Helpline to avoid fatalities.

The brown recluse

Also known as the violin spiders, they have a dark violin-shaped mark which helps to identify them and can be spotted on the area of their body where the legs meet. As the name suggest, it is brown in color and can be found in the South or Mid-west. They can be found in dry and isolated, unchecked areas like under the logs, rocks or leaves, in a shoe or in an attic. The bite by this spider is skin-related causing swelling, blistering, and redness. The skin can also turn black. This will be found even among the hairy ones. Red lumps under the skin can also be found.

 Spider bites on dogs – Symptoms


  1. A cutaneous reaction within 2-6 hours
  2. Pain and redness.
  3. Blistering in 12 hours
  4. The lesions transforming into the “bull’s-eye” lesion.
  5. Decaying of the skin and focal ulceration within 2 weeks.
  6. Fever, pain in the joints, seizures, disorders of the blood disorders, and kidney failure.

Treatment options for this bite include:

  1. Cleaning and clipping the area affected
  2. Using a cold compress for relief
  3. The area around the wound will be clipped and cleaned. A cold compress may be used in cases of recluse spider bites.
  4. Pain medication
  5. Monitoring the cardiopulmonary
  6. Debriding the tissue that has been attacked
  7. Applying Burow’s solution, and giving antibiotics.

When you can’t identify the spider

Not everyone can easily identify the species of the spider that has attacked. In fact the owners don’t often realize that their dogs have been bitten by a spider. The dogs usually lick or scratch the bitten area when the experience pain or itching. Some dogs do not show any sign for a few hours .The first change after being attacked by a spider is in the behavior depending upon the venom that has been injected into the dog’s bloodstream. There is no particular test to determine the amount of venom injected.

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The venom neurotoxin makes the dog anxious as soon as it progresses, limiting the muscular movement and causing extreme pain and discomfort in the abdomen, back, and the chest. The blood pressure and heart rate can also increase along with a possibility of respiratory and paralysis of the abdominal muscles. Delaying the anti-venom treatment can lead to death.

If you can’t identify the kind of spider or even the spider bite, observing the following signs can be of a great use:

  1. Cramping and Severe muscle pain
  2. Dizziness
  3. Seizure and Tremors
  4. Paralytic attacks
  5. Frequent changes in the blood pressure.
  6. Drooling and weakness
  7. Vomiting and Diarrhea

Taking care of the more reactive Dogs

The more reactive dogs face a greater danger of collapse and complications such as dropping blood pressure and heart beat rate. Along with the pain medication they might also be given steroids. They can also have clots in the blood, or ruptured red blood cells.



Thus, the treatments for a spider bite are many but determining the extent of toxins is difficult as there is no relevant lab test. It is better to take preventive measures and frequently make spider checks. It is also important to keep the most vulnerable areas clean to avoid these dangerous creatures and keep an eye on your dog in case there is a sudden change in his health. Run pest control as a preventative measure, keep the area clean and free of webs.

The veterinarian may suggest treatment to address the wound.  He or she can also use cold compress to relieve pain and prevent inflammation. Sometimes, surgery may be warranted, in this procedure dead and affected skin cells are removed and skin grafting is done, under certain cases.  Blood transfusion may be done in some cases and the dog would need IV therapy. Muscle relaxants are prescribed in case of spasms experienced.  The bite can take about a month long to be fully cured.


Spider bites on dogs – pictures

spider bite dogs photos

spider bite dogs pictures

spider bites on dogs pictures

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