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Dogs are curious creatures. Led by their amazing sense of smell, they can easily “sniff” themselves into trouble. And by trouble, we mean those creatures that lurk in the dark spaces and corners of our houses – those creatures we call spiders.
Spiders are everywhere. They are inside of your home, outside of your home, in your garden – everywhere. Luckily, most of the spiders we encounter are not a threat, but some of them are, namely the black widow and the brown recluse.
These spiders are more afraid of you than you are of them, but what about your dog? What happens when she gets too close to a spider and it bites her?
According to webvet.com, “The most common signs of an insect bite reaction on a dog include swelling and redness at the site of the bite, ‘hives,’ or a swollen face or muzzle. However, just like people, some dogs can become sensitive to the proteins contained in the saliva or venom of biting insects. These allergic individuals can develop severely inflamed skin, vomiting, breathing difficulties, and (rarely) death.”
If your dog is bitten by a black widow or brown recluse – the top two poisonous spiders – here are the symptoms to look for, and how to treat the bite.
What Are the Symptoms of a Black Widow Spider Bite?
Luckily for our curious dogs, black widow’s are not aggressive and will only bite your dog if it is feeling threatened. However, if your dog is bitten by one, it is a serious emergency and you will need to get her to the vet – stat. The venom of a female black widow can kill a small dog, and the venom can also have a severe effect on your puppy or adult dog.
The effects of a black widow bite will be noticeable right away. According to petcaretips.net, you’ll see the following signs:
How is a Black Widow Spider Bite Treated?
According to petplace.com, there is an antivenin, but it’s too expensive for vets to keep on hand and will most likely need to be ordered from a human hospital. However, other treatment options include:
Relaxing the muscles
Medication to reduce muscle spasms
The good news is that most dogs will survive a black widow spider bite as long as treatment is immediate and swift.
How Can I Prevent My Dog from Being Bitten by a Black Widow?
You can help prevent your dog from being bitten by a black widow spider by teaching your dog not to go into places where black widows will be and to have your house inspected for poisonous spiders.
Some of the places black widows like to hide are: wood piles, old sheds, outbuildings and dry wells. Basically, you will find black widows in just about any place that has been abandoned for a long and is dry and dark.
What are the Symptoms of a Brown Recluse Spider Bite?
There is some good news: Unlike black widow spider bites, brown recluse spider bites are rarely fatal, and dogs are rarely bitten by brown recluse spiders.
The bad news is that if your dog was bitten, she won’t feel it, because the bite is painless. Your won’t even notice the bite for two to three hours, which means the spider will have already moved on, making it harder for you to identify what kind of spider bit your dog, and possibly leading to a misdiagnosis.
However, it is still a poisonous spider bite, and must be treated by your vet.
According to Petsmd.com, if your dog has been bitten by a brown recluse, you will see the following symptoms:
Within the first 10 minutes, her capillaries will begin to constrict.
Within two to six hours, the bite area will become swollen. Your dog will start to feel pain, become nauseated, and start a fever.
Within 12 hours, a blister will form at the bite site
Within seven to 10 days, there will be rapid cell damage and a bite site with a black center
How is a Brown Recluse Spider Bite Treated?
Brown recluse spider bites take a very long time to heal – 6 to 8 months, in fact. You will have to monitor the bite site regularly because black necrotic tissue could form over the area, and if that falls away, it could expose the muscles underneath, putting your dog at risk of infection.
If you think your dog has been bitten by a brown recluse spider, petsmd.com offers the following advice:
Apply an ice pack to the bite site to reduce pain and swelling.
Try to catch the spider.
Take your dog to the vet right away.
How Can I Prevent My Dog from Being Bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider?
The same advice for keeping black widows out of your house also applies to the brown recluse.
Petsmed.com advises that you make sure your house is protected from unwanted pests by doing the following:
Seal off all windows, doors and cracks.
Keep your storage areas clear of clutter.
If you have a fireplace that uses wood, keep the wood stored away from the house, because wood piles are a favorite spot for creepy-crawlers to hide.
Remove all dead insects when you see them – dead bugs are meals for spiders.
And, most importantly, teach your dog not to go into these places.
PHOTO: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Curious_dog_on_the_leash.jpg, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Black_widow_spider_9854_lores.jpg, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brown_recluse_spider,_Loxosceles_reclusa.jpg
Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.
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