Spider Bites in Dogs and Cats

Spiders release venom during the time of biting. There are two types of spider bit that are very dangerous to your pets – the black widow spider and brown spider.

An adult black widow spider has a body of about 1/2 inch long, and have an hourglass-shaped mark on their abdomens. They release neurotoxic venom which is 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s.

An adult brown spider has a body of about 1/4 to 3/4 inch long. The brown spider has a dark violin shape located on the top of the leg attachment region with the neck of the violin pointing backward toward the abdomen. The brown recluse has 6 eyes arranged in pairs – one pair in front and a pair on either side and releases haemotoxic venom.

So what are the signs and symptoms of spider bite?

Signs and symptoms of black widow spider:

Redness and swelling at the site of bite and necrosis and sloughing of skin. The signs and symptoms of black widow spider bites in dogs and cats are as follows –

(a) Sensory loss followed by increased sensitivity to stimulation

(b ) Rigid muscle

(c) Extreme muscle pain

(d) muscle cramp of the chest, abdomen, back, and other large muscles

(e) Abdominal rigidity without tenderness

(f) Rigid muscles followed by muscle paralysis

In extreme cases, death occurs because of respiratory collapse due to cramping of the muscles of abdomen or cardiovascular collapse.

Signs and symptoms of brown spider bite:

There is an increase in body temperature, weakness, joint pain, vomiting, seizures and swelling in the bite area. The bites from brown spiders are not very painful at the beginning. Initially there is small blister and this lesion becomes large with a central dark area, and the area around the necrotic tissue begins to weep. Sloughing of necrotic tissue takes place and leave a big hole in the affected part. Skin healing takes place but takes a long time and the scar is permanent.

How to treat spider bite in dogs and cats?

Treatment of black widow spider bite –

Do not use a tourniquet as it can harm circulation. Instead, follow these steps:

(a) Ice pad application over the affected part

(b) Pure aloe vera to reduce the inflammation, and reduce the pain

(c) 1 mg. of Benadryl per pound of body weight to reduce inflammation and itching

(d) Calcium gluconate 10% at a dose of 5-10 ml i/v

(e) Anti convulsive drugs like diazepam

(d) Antivenin can be given.

Treatment of brown spider in dogs and cats –

Clean and wash the bite area with povidone iodine, hydrogen peroxide or chlorhexidine. As the venom is present in the site of bite, do not use a tourniquet. Follow these steps:

(a) Ice pad application over the affected part

(b) Corticosteroid to reduce inflammation

(c) Antibiotic to prevent secondary bacterial infections

Dogs and cats recover from brown spider bite with proper treatment but it take weeks to recover fully.

So how do you prevent and control spider bites in dogs and cats?

(a) Do not allow dogs and cats to have contact with the spiders

(b) Remove spiders, webs, and eggs from inside the house using vacuum cleaner

(c) Close openings to avoid spider enter into the house

(d) Use pesticides with caution to kill the spider.