The very idea of your beloved dog being bitten by a spider is terrifying. It’s not always easy to stay calm when you notice a bite on your dog and you don’t know where it came from. It can be even more difficult to stay calm when you know for a fact that your dog was in an area where you have found a spider that is capable of biting and then your dog starts showing signs of some type of bite. This statement is even more true when the arachnid in question is one of the more dangerous venomous varieties, such as a black widow or brown recluse spider. The question is, what do you do if you find out that your dog has been bitten by a spider?
Try to Stay Calm
Imagine that you’ve been cleaning out your garage and your dog has been with you all day. You had to kill several spiders throughout the day and now, your dog is scratching or nipping at a particular spot as if something is really bothering her. You part the hair and you notice an area of skin that is swollen, red, and seems irritated. In all likelihood, your first thought is going to be that she was bitten by a spider while you were cleaning out the garage. While some people are naturally more inclined to panic than others, it can definitely be hard not to allow the fear to well up inside of you and take over. Even the most level-headed individuals can get scared. After all, this is your baby that you’re talking about. In reality, the worst thing you can do is panic. If you do, you won’t be able to think clearly. Worse yet, your dog will pick up on the fact that you’re completely freaked out, and then she will be, too. Obviously, this is only going to make the situation worse. Still, knowing that you shouldn’t panic and actually refraining from panicking are two entirely different things. If you’re not supposed to run around in frantic circles, what are you supposed to do?
Observe Your Dog’s Behavior
The first thing you want to do is take note of your dog’s overall behavior. Obviously, you already know that she is scratching or biting at the area. That is what got your attention in the first place. However, there is much more that should be noted here. For example, does she seem like she is genuinely uncomfortable, or does it only seem to be that she’s experiencing some mild irritation in a single area? Is the area where the bite occurred hot to the touch? Will your dog allow you to touch that area in order to examine it more closely? If so, how does she react when you do? If she yelps or growls and immediately draws back, then you know she is in a fair amount of pain. Otherwise, her skin might just be irritated in much the same way that your skin gets irritated when a bug bites you. In other words, it may not be an emergency, even though it probably feels like one to you at the moment. If your dog doesn’t seem to be in pain and she’s breathing well, it may be time for you to simply wait things out and see how she does. This is especially true if you don’t know what kind of spider bite you’re dealing with. Perhaps you’re not even sure that it was a spider at all. If you feel like you can do so safely, observe your dog for the next few hours and see whether or not any additional symptoms appear. Take special note of how well she eats and drinks. As previously mentioned, pay special attention to her breathing and her overall energy level. Any perceived difficulty breathing or lethargy that can’t otherwise be explained could be a sign that it’s time to visit the veterinarian right away.
What to Do When You’re Certain You’re Dealing With a Dangerous Spider Bite
Now that you know what to do in the majority of these types of cases, it’s time to figure out what to do if you absolutely know that you’re dealing with a potentially dangerous spider bite. Let’s go back to the scenario where you cleaned out the garage. Perhaps you saw your dog going after something in the corner, only to investigate and find a black widow or brown recluse that could be positively identified. Now, your dog has a bite that wasn’t there before so you’re fairly certain what happened. What should you do? If at all possible, kill the spider and then safely put it in a clear plastic dish or something similar so that you can take it to the veterinarian with you. This can help with positive identification. You’d be surprised how many people think that they know what type of spider they’re dealing with, only to find out that it isn’t that particular type of spider at all. If you can’t locate the spider but you’re still fairly certain that your dog was bitten by a venomous one, it’s time to load up and go to your veterinarian right away.
Do Your Best Not to Make Things Worse
Of course, you should take just a few minutes to take care of the basics. First and foremost, call your veterinarian and explain the situation to them. Make sure that they want you to bring your dog in. In all likelihood, they will tell you to bring her in immediately but if they tell you to wait and your gut instinct tells you otherwise, don’t hesitate to take your dog to an emergency veterinarian clinic. Sometimes, it might be difficult to convey what you are seeing over the phone. Remember, your vet deals with frantic pet owners on a daily basis. You’d be surprised how many telephone calls they field in a day from people that swear up and down there is an emergency when it is anything but. As a result, they do unfortunately miss things from time to time. If they’re telling you not to bring your dog in because they’re booked up or it’s almost closing time and you feel like something is genuinely wrong, don’t be afraid to go somewhere else. At the same time, try not to be in such a state of panic that you’re scaring your dog. Take just a few moments to comfort her and grab her retractable dog leash. Make sure that you have a method of securing her in the car like a dog crate. Take a small bowl and a bottle of water. You might even decide to bring her favorite blanket or dog toy with you so she can cuddle up to it while she’s in the car. This takes mere minutes and it can go a long way toward making the entire experience less stressful for both you and your dog. You shouldn’t dawdle, but it’s okay to take just a couple of minutes to gather your thoughts.
Arriving at the Vet
When you arrive at the vet’s office, be sure and explain the situation as calmly as possible. Tell them what you’ve noticed and be sure and tell them what type of spider you think could have potentially bitten your dog. It’s important to be as certain as possible. Be honest and upfront with the vet and tell them what you think is going on, then allow them to do their examination. If it turns out to be a bite from a black widow, your dog can be provided an antivenin at the veterinarian’s office that can stop the spread of the poison . On the other hand, there isn’t any such treatment for a brown recluse spider bite. However, your veterinarian can provide the supportive care that your dog needs. This might be as simple as pain medication and some fluids or it could be something more significant, like removing damaged tissue in order to stop the spread of the poison. If the situation is severe enough, the veterinarian might keep your dog there at least overnight, if not longer. It’s very much contingent on the severity of the bite and how your dog is presenting. Black widow bites can be extremely serious. In fact, a black widow can easily kill a dog. As a result, the goal is to get the antivenin into your dog’s system as quickly as possible in order to stop any additional damage from occurring. From that point forward, she may need an overnight stay in order to be observed and receive supportive care before she’s ready to go back home. On the other hand, she may be doing so well that the vet decides to watch her for just a few hours and then send her home. Brown recluse spider bites on dogs can be a different story. It largely depends on how each individual that is bitten responds to the bite. With some bites, nothing of consequence happens. Others can cause severe tissue damage that must be treated by a professional.
As you can see, a spider bite on your dog isn’t always as black and white as you might think it is. It can be hard to know for certain that your dog was even bitten by a spider, much less positively identifying the type of spider in question. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t hesitate to call your veterinarian if you have any concern whatsoever that your dog was bitten by a spider. It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry. If you’re still not certain how to handle the situation, consider reading through the following frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of a spider bite on a dog?
Typically, the symptoms are similar to those that might be experienced by humans. The area is likely to be swollen and red. It may be painful to touch. In fact, your dog may be constantly scratching or biting at the affected area in an attempt to relieve the discomfort.
How do you treat a spider bite on a dog?
If the symptoms are mild and you’re fairly certain that you’re not dealing with a dangerous spider bite, you might try an at-home treatment such as spraying the affected area with hydrocortisone spray designed especially for dogs. Of course, you should always contact your veterinarian first as opposed to trying this or any other at-home remedy. It’s really best to let your veterinarian decide whether your dog should be treated at home or if she needs to be seen. If you even remotely suspect that the spider bite came from a venomous spider, you should get your dog to a veterinarian right away.
Can dogs survive spider bites?
Of course, dogs can and do survive spider bites. In fact, they survive the overwhelming majority of them. A lot of spiders are not capable of biting because their mouths are too small to do so. Furthermore, most bites that do occur aren’t serious. As such, your dog may have some skin irritation that itches or stings, but that may be the only thing that happens. However, there is always the potential for things to be more serious, especially if you’re dealing with venomous spiders such as the black widow or brown recluse spiders. These particular types of spider bites on dogs can be exceptionally dangerous. Therefore, it’s imperative that you have your dog seen by a veterinarian immediately. The last thing you want to do is wait until the poison has made its way through your dog’s body and you are dealing with a much bigger emergency than you would have been if you had dealt with it right away. Therefore, if you know that you are dealing with this type of bite and you can’t get your dog seen by your regular veterinarian, you should take her to an emergency clinic immediately.
How long does it take for a spider bite to affect a dog?
In most cases, it largely depends on the type of spider that bit your dog and how severe the bite itself was. For example, some bites are what are considered dry bites, where a venomous spider bites but doesn’t actually inject any venom into its subject. By the same token, a very small amount of venom can be injected. At other times, the spider may bite with everything that it has. Obviously, this will determine how long it takes for your dog to be affected. In most cases, it takes at least 30 minutes for anything to show up on your dog’s skin. More often than not, you can be certain about the symptoms within about eight hours. That seems like a long time, but even if your dog seems to be doing very well after a bite, she needs to be closely watched for at least that long. Again, it cannot be stressed enough that if you are certain she has been bitten by a black widow a or a brown recluse spider, the last thing you want to do is wait. Get her seen by a veterinarian as quickly as possible. The waiting period in question applies more to situations where you’re not entirely sure whether or not you are dealing with a spider bite and you are watching your dog see if any additional symptoms appear.