Spiders are scary. A lot of us fear them and kill them on sight. They can crawl out of the tiniest spaces and scare us. While they generally aren’t as scary as we make them out to be, they can bite. And while many of them are harmless, a few spider bites are as scary as we make them out to be, both for dogs and humans.
We may not think about it much because we’re more worried about them biting us, but these 8-legged demons can bite our furry companions too. It can be harder to spot because of all the fur, but it does happen.
Like us, spider bites can cause a variety of issues depending on the type of spider and the severity of the wound. Most wounds may cause mild irritation and skin issues around the area of the wound. But serious wounds from venomous insects like black widows and brown recluses can cause serious problems like vomiting and drooling.
While minor bug wounds aren’t serious and can be treated at home, you should contact a vet if you’re worried your dog was bitten by a venomous insect.
Most spider bites on dogs aren’t serious and only cause irritation as long as they don’t include venom.
Spider Bite Symptoms
Spider bites can be hard to notice on pets because of their coats. If you suspect your pup’s been bitten by something, you may need to run your hand through their fur to inspect the skin.
Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the wound and what insect caused it. Most of these insects can’t cause a lot of pain for your dog. However, venomous species can cause problems if their venom infects your pup. In North America, black widows and brown recluses are the most dangerous to take note of.
Thankfully, most spiders aren’t actually as scary and harmful as we think they are. Even if they bite your dog, most wounds will be non-venomous and mostly just irritating. Unfortunately, finding them may be a pain. They may not even be noticeable until days after the bite takes place.
If your pup has been bitten, they may start itching, scratching, and nipping at a specific spot. They may yelp right after being bitten, but they may not notice until the irritation starts. You’ll need to part the fur to check.
Minor wounds may look like red bumps. The site may have redness and swelling. Your pup may help you out by licking at the spot they were hurt.
If your pup has been bitten by a more dangerous insect, you may notice more severe symptoms along with a wound. The wound may appear pale with a red circle surrounding it. In some cases, a blister or bruise may form around the wound.
A wound from a brown recluse may start out red and swollen. It may leave a bulls-eye effect on the skin. It may also cause an area of black or dead skin around the area. They can also leave a blister and bruise around the wound area.
Venomous spider bites can cause serious problems like vomiting, tremors, spasms, and other difficulties. Your pup may be in danger, so it’s important to call the vet if you see these symptoms.
A black widow may not initially cause pain for your pup, but their toxins can be deadly. They may have muscle spasms and difficulty walking.
If a spider has injected venom into your dog, they may exhibit diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, and tremors. They may also suffer from muscle cramps and agitation. They may also be feverish depending on the severity.
Depending on the venom, your pup may have trouble breathing, swelling on the face, or they may break out into hives.
If you suspect that an insect has injected venom into your dog, it’s best to call the vet. Don’t leave a potentially venomous wound to fester.
Treating a spider bite depends on the severity of the wound and the bug that caused it. Most insect wounds can be treated at home as long as your pup isn’t showing any major signs of illness. But you should consult your vet if your pup is showing any signs of illness or if you know the insect was venomous.
If your dog’s wound seems more irritating than serious, there may be some things you can do from home to ease their pain. Insect bites can be itchy, irritating, or painful even in minor cases, so it’s best not to leave them alone.
Most insect bites can be treated at home as long as your pup isn’t experiencing severe symptoms of a venomous bite.
Wash the Wound
As soon as you find a spider bite on your dog, you should grab a washcloth and some soap (preferably an anti-itch or oatmeal shampoo) and work on cleaning the bitten area. You’ll want to clean the area of any bacteria and help prevent infection.
Use a Cold Compress
After washing the area, you may want to apply a cold compress to the wounded area for a short while. Applying pressure for about ten minutes should help relieve inflammation.
You should always keep a cold compress on hand, especially if you live in an area where dangerous insects are common.
Repeatedly wash and apply a cold compress for the next few days as needed while the wound heals.
Apply Aloe Vera or Similar Anti-Itch Relief
You can apply dog-friendly aloe vera or other similar products to the infected area if you notice your companion itching. These products can help soothe and revive the skin and cut down on itchiness.
If the wound is causing itching, there are a variety of remedies you can try.
When to Call the Vet
It can sound silly to call the vet over an insect bite, but certain spiders can have serious effects on your pet.
If a venomous insect bit your pup, you may notice more severe symptoms than normal. They may be very sick with diarrhea, vomiting, and drooling. They may also have tremors and muscle pain. Get to the vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms after finding an insect bite.
If you saw the spider that bit your dog, try to catch it. It may help the vet determine what treatment is needed. If you know you’ve seen a black widow or brown recluse in the area near your pet around the time of the bite, it may be best to go ahead and call the vet.
Depending on the insect and severity, your vet may administer an antivenom or wound care for your pup. They may also provide pain relievers if your companion is in pain. In severe cases, advanced treatment like surgery may be required, but it’s rare.
Venomous wounds can be serious and require quick treatment, so it’s important to act immediately if you suspect a venomous insect has bitten your pup.
Always call your vet if you suspect that a venomous insect has bitten your pup. Venomous wounds can cause major problems like vomiting, weak pulse, and drooling.
Preventing Spider Bites on Dogs
Preventing a spider from ever biting you or your dog can be difficult. They’re common, scary little critters. But there are at least some precautions you can take.
The obvious way is to just be aware of what lives in your area. Know what spiders (and other dangerous creatures) are native to your area, what they look like, and how dangerous they are. Awareness is the first step to prevention. If you see these creatures in your living area, exterminate them if possible before they find your furry friend.
Try to keep your house and the area in and around your house as clear of debris as possible. Keep your house clean and consistently check for spider webs in corners, under tables, and anywhere else that seems like a good hiding place for them.
If bugs in general are a constant concern, consider buying a pet-safe repellent to try to keep them away from your home.
Be aware of what venomous insects are living in your area and try to keep your home clean to prevent your pup from being bitten by spiders or other insects.
Protecting Your Dog From Spiders
Spiders are everywhere depending on where you live, and avoiding them can seem impossible. Thankfully, in most cases, even if they bite you and your dog, they’re more likely to irritate and scare you more than anything.
If your pup yelps suddenly and starts nipping or biting at a spot, part and check the fur to check for a bite. Wounds may just look like red bumps once they manifest. They may scab over or the skin around may be inflamed or die depending on the severity.
Minor wounds can be washed and soothed with a cold compress and treated with anti-itch products.
Venomous wounds from species like black widows and brown recluses should be taken more seriously. Your pup will show more severe symptoms like vomiting and drooling. They may also have tremors. If you notice any of these symptoms, call your vet immediately. Early treatment is key for a venomous wound.
Always be aware of what dangers are in your area and inspect your home frequently for anything dangerous to your dog. Know the signs that they’re in pain. Always keep your vet’s emergency contact information on hand in case an insect wound ends up being severe.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.