Home remedies can be really helpful, but what can remedy a spider bite on your dog? Depending on the species, spider bites can pose a severe threat to your dog. Many times a dog getting bitten is unavoidable. Being proactive and getting familiar with the different types of poisonous spiders can make all the difference. Recognizing the spiders and their bites can keep your dog from unnecessary harm. Keep reading for an in-depth explanation of how spider bites may affect your dog and what you can do at home if your dog is bitten.
What is a Spider Bite?
A spider bite, or the more technical term arachnidism, is simply a wound that comes from being bitten by a spider. Most of the time, spider bites are harmless. Typically a spider will not bite unless they’re in danger or perceive a threat. Even the bites we think come from spiders, usually end up being from other bugs. At times, skin infections or hives have also been mistaken for spider bites.
Some spider bites can cause itchiness, swelling, redness, and pain. Other times your dog might not even notice they have a spider bite. Although, with more than 30,000 species of spiders, there are some dangerous ones to be aware of. Luckily, you and your canine only need to worry about two threatening spiders if you live in North America.
Both the black widow and the brown recluse have fangs long enough to penetrate the skin and inject their venomous toxin. If you or your dog gets bitten by either one of these spiders you should immediately seek medical attention. To help us distinguish the difference between a common spider bite and a dangerous one we will need to go over all the symptoms of spider bites and how to identify them.
What Does a Spider Bite Look Like on Dogs?
Before using home remedies for a spider bite you need to make sure your dog was actually bitten. You see, identifying a spider bite on a dog can get tricky. Most times a common spider bite will resemble a bite from any other insect and there’s no need to raise immediate concern. If the symptoms seem intense or get worse you should take your dog to the vet. Some typical signs of spider bites to be aware of are:
- Muscle pain
- Swelling and redness
- Trouble walking or standing
- A bull’s eye mark or a blister
- Weak pulse or increased heart rate
Depending on which species of spider delivered the bite, symptoms can vary. Most bites will include signs of irritation, redness, and swelling. If a lot of venom releases at the time of the bite, symptoms might also include muscle pain, diarrhea, cramping, vomiting, tremors, and anxiousness.
Noticing a spider bite on a dog can be challenging, especially if the dog has a thick coat of fur. Before you identify a bite, you might see your dog becoming restless, yelping, or licking the affected area. Paying attention to any differences or more advanced symptoms listed above can help you be more actionable.
What Are the Symptoms of Spider Bites on Dogs?
So, how can you tell if your dog has a spider bite? Well, the signs of a spider bite can vary depending on which species did the biting. As noted earlier, there are two spiders that are poisonous to dogs in the U.S. As a dog owner, the spider bites you need to be concerned with are the black widow and brown recluse.
Signs of a Black Widow Spider Bite
There are several signs to look for if your dog gets bitten by a black widow. A female black widow usually ranges between 2 and 2.5 cm in length. They are a shiny black color and have an orange or red mark under their abdomen. Males are generally considered non-toxic because of their smaller fangs.
Dogs bitten by a black widow might display symptoms of the following:
- Muscle Tremors
- Severe muscle pain
- Unbalanced walking
- Abnormal blood pressure changes
The neurotoxins found in the black widow’s venom (female) affect the dog’s nervous system, which causes spasms or paralysis. Smaller dogs are more prone to experience more serious symptoms. Treatment for a female black widow bite requires a visit to the vet and usually includes an antivenom, IV fluids, pain medications, and anti-seizure medications.
If you suspect your dog has been bitten by a black widow, don’t hesitate, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for life-saving care and advice. It is not advised to only rely on home remedies if a black widow spider bites your dog.
Signs of a Brown Recluse Spider Bite
Signs that your dog was bitten by a brown recluse spider can include reluctance to put weight on the affected area. Limping or lifting one leg while standing can also be good initial indicators. Another name for the brown recluse is the “violin spider” and the symptoms of its bite tend to get worse as time passes, depending on how severe it is.
More severe symptoms can include:
- Red, itchy skin
- Skin lesion that mimics a bull’s eye
- Necrotic tissue (dead skin) around the bite
- Gash or wound after the dead tissue falls off
- Bruising and inflammation to the surrounding area
To reduce the swelling and redness on your way to the vet, apply an ice pack. The most common treatment for a brown recluse spider bite, in humans and dogs, is the leprosy drug dapsone. Your vet might prescribe corticosteroids to prevent further necrosis from happening. It also helps contain the venom within the infected cells, keeping it from spreading.
Antibiotics and an antiseptic are usually given to the dog to prevent infections. The wounds left behind from a brown recluse bite will most likely need to be bandaged. If you suspect your dog has been bitten by a brown recluse immediately call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for life-saving care and advice. It is not advised to only rely on home remedies if a violin spider bites your dog.
Both the brown recluse and black widow spiders live in areas that remain undisturbed. They will not bite unless threatened, and in fact, they need some pressure to inject their venom. Sitting, stepping, lying or accidentally disturbing them can cause them to bite.
Which Dogs Are Affected by Spider Bites?
All dogs are at risk when bitten by a poisonous spider like the black widow and brown recluse. However, older dogs are more at risk of deadly reactions to spider bites due to their weaker immune systems. Dogs who have high blood pressure are also more at risk.
How to Protect Dogs From Spider Bites
Preventing a dog from getting a spider bite can be as challenging as stopping a toddler from falling. Still, there are things you can do to keep your dogs safe. If you’ve seen spider webs in your home, calling a pest control professional can help reduce the risk of encountering a venomous spider. Plenty of experts use pet-friendly and eco-friendly techniques to keep the spiders at bay.
Here are some more proactive tips on how to keep your dogs safe from spider bites:
- Clean up those undisturbed areas more often
- Noticing an infestation of spiders in your house or kennel
- Do not leave your dog unattended in basements, attics or sheds
- Avoid piling up lumber or firewood and storing it against your house
- Study dangerous spiders and familiarize yourself with what they look like
- Pay close attention to any changes in your dog’s behavior and examine them if you think something is wrong
How Quickly Do Dogs Recover from Spider Bites?
Most dogs can recover entirely from a spider bite. The recovery period is different for each dog affected. More severe bites can take months for a wound to heal fully, and other times scarring can occur. The best thing to do is to follow your vet’s instructions and monitor the bite until it has fully healed.
Home Remedies for Spider Bite on Dogs
Depending on the type of spider bite, your dog might receive IV fluids, antivenin, pain medication or antibiotics. In Addition to your vet’s advice, there are some remedies you can apply at home.
Ice packs are great for reducing swelling and irritation. Applying ice can also be useful towards a venomous bite, using cold compression can actually slow down the spread of the venom.
It can also be helpful to elevate the limb if possible. If you’ve gone through all the treatment options, but still want a more natural approach, consider these home remedy options for spider bites:
Clean the Bite
Wash the bite with soap and water then apply a cold compress on the area
Use a Potato Poultice to Reduce Inflammation
You can create a potato poultice at home by slicing a potato and putting the shreds in a thin piece of cloth. Next, apply it on the spider bite until the potato gets dry.
Make a Baking Soda Paste
Applying baking soda to a bite has been shown to speed up the healing time. You can make the paste using water and baking soda.
Use Aloe Vera to Soothe the Area
Aloe vera can also help reduce inflammation and itchiness. When using it on dogs, opting for a non-toxic pet-friendly gel is better than using the gel from a plant.
Apply a Salt Mixture
If you suspect your canine was bitten by a venomous spider you may be able to remove some venom by applying a wash towel and saltwater. Just mix up some water and salt and dip the cloth in it then use it to dress the wound and let it soak for a few hours.
Turmeric Powder & Olive Oil
Another remedy to help decrease pain, irritation, and redness is to make a paste of turmeric powder and olive oil and then apply it to the bite. After an hour, remove the paste with warm water and then reapply more paste until symptoms reduce. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory that has many benefits for dogs.
Take your pet back to the vet
If the bite is getting worse or is not showing any signs of improvement after a reasonable amount of time, it might be best to have your vet take a second look.
Before deciding to treat your dog at home for a spider bite, it’s best to get a vet’s professional opinion. If the vet decides it’s not a bite worth worrying about, consider you and your pet lucky. Learn more here.