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The Danger of Spider Bites to Your Dog (With Photos)

Mary's dogs are members of her family. She enjoys writing about her furbabies.

Spider bites in dogs.

Spider bites in dogs.

There Were Spiders in My New Apartment

I recently moved into a small two-bedroom apartment that was built onto an existing house. This was done to accommodate the owner's mother-in-law. I downsized from a large four-bedroom house.

I first began to notice a huge population of ants. These are the kind we commonly call “sugar ants.” They are attracted to sweets, and they also love toothpaste and soap. Through research, I now know spiders feed off of these ants and other insects.

In this article, I will go into detail about my experience with spider bites and how my dog and I were affected. This includes:

  • How My Dog and I Got Bitten by a Spider
  • How My Dog Was Assessed and Treated
  • How My Dog Healed Over the Course of 2 Months (Photos Included)
  • Venomous and Poisonous Spiders in the United States
This is how the wolf spider bite looked on my forearm the day after I was bitten.

This is how the wolf spider bite looked on my forearm the day after I was bitten.

My Dog and I Were Both Bitten by Spiders

One morning, I noticed a red bump on my forearm. It looked like a mosquito bite and I thought nothing of it. Four hours later, the bump was larger, and the site was beginning to turn blue. I took an antihistamine and ignored it. By the end of the day, the site was beginning to swell and turn even bluer. It was time to see a doctor.

The doctor said he thought this was a spider bite. I live in South Florida where spiders are quite common, although I had never seen any except for the harmless daddy-long-legs spider. He said this bite was probably from a brown recluse or a wolf spider. I was very frightened because I had read about the brown recluse's bite. Its bite will cause tissue to become necrotic, and it will do a lot of damage.

The doctor explained that my bite appeared to be from a wolf spider and that the bite would not be as bad as the recluse's bite. He gave me a shot of antibiotics to ward off any potential infection.

It took almost three weeks for the swelling and bruising to go away on my arm. We called in an exterminator to do a whole house treatment. I began shaking out all my bed linens before going to sleep each night!

This is how the spider bite looked like when it first burst.

This is how the spider bite looked like when it first burst.

How I Found the Spider Bite on My Dog's Shoulder

One night when we were playing with Baby, I felt a lump on her left shoulder. She already has a lump on her other shoulder that the veterinarian has assured me is just a cyst, and one I should not worry about it. I thought to myself, "This is just another lump."

The following morning, Baby did not act like herself. She seemed lethargic, and wouldn't eat, drink, or play. It was obvious she was not well. I kept a close watch on her all throughout the day. Later that same evening, I saw blood on her white hair. The lump was swollen and had burst and was bleeding!

How are spider bites assessed?

How are spider bites assessed?

I Took My Dog in for Emergency Veterinary Care

I called my vet at 8 pm. He said he would meet us at his clinic. I knew this would mean an emergency charge, but at this point, I didn't care. I told the vet exactly what had transpired with Baby.

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Assessing Baby's Spider Bite

The vet used the clippers to shave away the hair so he could take a good look. He looked very perplexed. I told him her bite looked exactly like the one I had, and that my doctor had said mine looked like a wolf spider bite. My vet said he had never seen a spider bite on a dog before. He said it would be impossible to know for sure what kind of spider had bitten her unless I had actually seen the spider. Of course, I had not seen whatever had bitten Baby.

He stuck a needle into the middle of the bite and only bloody serum came out. He first thought he might lance the bite, but then thought better of that treatment. He decided it would be better to treat the bite with an antibiotic injection and an antihistamine. He gave me pills to give her at home and instructed me to bring her back in two days. He said to call him immediately if there was any change in her condition.

What to Do After a Spider Bites Your Dog

Pet owners don’t often know that their dogs have been bitten by a spider. They may or may not witness their dog experiencing pain. Once bitten, some dogs may scratch or lick at the bite if it continues to be painful. But, they may also get bitten and go on along their merry way.

Signs and Symptoms of Spider Bites in Dogs

Initially, some behavioral reaction to the bite itself or licking the site of the bite would be the only indications that a dog’s been bitten. Depending on the situation, the spider may or may not have had a chance to inject any venom, and again, there’s no way to know if any or how much venom is now in the dog’s bloodstream—because there’s no immediate diagnostic test.

When Is It an Emergency?

In a dog that’s going to react to a spider bite, you may not see anything at all for 8 to 10 hours. Then, the dog will start showing evidence of severe pain, maybe with a bit of swelling. A dog that cries when touched, doesn’t want to move, isn’t eating, or isn’t as active as usual, may have been bitten. The dog may also shake and pant. This indicates that your dog is in need of emergent care. If the dog received sufficient venom, its muscles will start to cramp and the pain can spread to its entire body. If you notice any of the signs, contact your veterinarian immediately.

What Kind of Spider Bite Is It?

The vet's main concern was that this could be the bite of a brown recluse spider. This would be very serious as the tissue can become necrotic. There was also the possibility of the bite being from a black widow spider or a more common spider, the wolf spider.

We have all three of these kinds of spiders where I live in Florida. Any one of these spiders could cause the reaction Baby had. A lot also depends on the weight of the dog. Baby weighs 14 pounds, which means it wouldn't take much venom to make her sick.

The treatment of spider bites in dogs.

The treatment of spider bites in dogs.

2 Days After the Spider Bite

After two days, Baby was still lethargic. She wouldn't eat or play, and drank very little water. I took Baby in to see the vet again. The vet changed the antibiotic to a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Baby had a slight fever. All I could do at this point was to watch her and encourage her to drink water and eat. I gave her water with a syringe. I cooked chicken for her, and she did eat a small amount of that.

Treatment for Spider Bites on Dogs

The main treatment for dogs afflicted with spider bites includes antibiotics, steroids, and supportive care for any other complications that develop. As mentioned, my veterinarian did not want to open the initial wound but preferred to treat the bite with antibiotics and steroids.

Below, you can see how the spider bite on Baby progressed over time.

2 Weeks After the Spider Bite

It took Baby a full two weeks to recover from this bite. She remained lethargic for that two weeks. Slowly, she began to show signs that she was feeling good again. She returned to her usual running and playing. I cannot tell you how glad I was to see her back to her old self. I remain very cautious and afraid of reoccurring spider bites for both me and Baby.

The spider bite is finally healed!

The spider bite is finally healed!

4 Weeks After the Spider Bite

After four weeks since Baby received the wolf spider bite, the wound healed very well; however, I do believe she will be left with a permanent scar. The hair that was shaved by the veterinarian has not grown back. I am wondering if it will grow back. She has beautiful white, curly hair, but she may have to live with a bald spot! Oh well, I'm not complaining. At least she is alive and well.

Getting Rid of Spiders in Your Home

I wish I could report that the scary spiders have been found and eradicated from my home. After two treatments inside and outside by professional exterminators, I cannot say for certain that the spiders are gone.

I purchased some spider traps and put them all around my apartment. They have a glue board attached. So far, all I have captured is a lot of ants! My hope is that we won't be bitten again. If we are bitten again, I think I will be moving out!

Poisonous and venomous spider FAQs

Poisonous and venomous spider FAQs

The Black Widow Spider

Black widow spiders are more plentiful in the southern and western U.S. but can be found throughout North America. The red or red-orange hourglass-shaped mark on their black, shiny abdomens makes black widows easy to identify, and they sometimes have a bit of red on their backs as well. Although a black widow leaves an obvious bite mark with two punctures on people, the bite is not easily found on a dog. The hair on the dog makes a bite difficult to see.

The Black Widow Spider

The Black Widow Spider

The Brown Recluse Spider

The brown recluse spider is, as its name implies, brown and lives mainly in the Midwest and South. It is sometimes called a “violin spider,” because of the dark shape on its head which resembles a violin or fiddle. Unlike the black widow, the recluse requires pressure against its body to bite. This pressure would be created, for example, if your dog happened to lie down on one, which, is usually how dogs get bitten by any spider.

The Wolf Spider

The wolf spider comes out at night. They have an acute sense of touch. It is thought that dogs that are bitten by these spiders probably lay on one as they sleep. I believe one of these bit me in my bed and also bit my dog as she slept. Symptoms of their venomous bite include swelling, pain, and itching. They don't seem to cause necrotic wounds like the brown recluse spider. Some researchers believe these spiders also live in the grass on lawns.

The Wolf Spider

The Wolf Spider

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2014 Mary Hyatt

Comments

I just killed what looked like a Hobo Spider or It was large, body about 1" with bags on its head . on August 02, 2020:

It was in my hiding in the corner behind the door, which was next to the shower stall. It has been extremely hot here this week, I sprayed in the fall for spiders, around the baseboards doors and windows, but keep finding them now that its hot out, can't figure how they are coming in.

Jasmin on July 28, 2020:

Hi I have 15 puppies that are two weeks old near brand and one of the puppies had gotten bit by spider in the neck what should I do and I don't know what kind of spider it got bit by so how can I take care of it without resolving to go to the vet the swelling is huge and I'm a little worried I have to take him to the vet anyways huh

Christa murch on July 15, 2020:

My 7lbs poodle mix was bitten by a spider. Probably a wolf spider or a brown recluse.

It’s been 5 days by now. Our Vetenarian did the right treatment with 3 different antibiotics !

However my little Milo is still struggling to get through this and he developed other organic symptoms liver pancreas and diabetic symptoms. He is still on 3 different antibiotics and supportive drip. His vet is doing daily tests that are being sent to a laboratory. We hope that the results are good. I read that treatment like this could last more than 2 weeks up to 4 weeks. So I am hopeful !

Pleb on October 31, 2019:

A wolf spider wouldn't do that kind of damage. Looks like a brown recluse.

Blade on August 11, 2019:

It looks rather severe for just a wolf spider bite, which is pretty rare as they usually flee. I have even tried provoking a wolf spider, but unless you trap them, like try to squish them, they are hesitant to bite. Brown recluse are more aggressive and will bite more readily. The doc may be right, but it would be helpful to see a specimen of the spiders infesting your house to be sure?

Angela on July 24, 2019:

Leave glue traps all the stuck ants are bait for the spiders. Orkin told me that. Also wolf spiders eat brown recluse, my shack in the woods is infested.

John O on May 16, 2019:

I am trying figure out what but my dog. My dog had 2 small scabs on her nose and it started swelling. I thought it was a puncture wound from rusty nails and took her to the vet. The vet just looked at it and prescribed a topical antibiotic. I was out of town for a while after that withmy friend watching the dog, but the 2 scabs merged and kept growing on her nose until it was over 2” wide and 1” long. The scab growing was the concern and increased over 2 weeks. I’m in Texas also and she is a 50 lb pit mix. She never got lethargic, but scratched at the nose to try and peel off the scab which the majority of it has peeled off with pink skin below at this point. There is still an outer edge of the scab around her nose. I may bring her in again just for review, but going to a different vet. The swelling did go down, but she absolutely hated the topical ointment and wanted to bite anyone applying it. I still have no clue what caused it, but know the scab kept growing in size around her nose over a couple of weeks. May take her in tonight, but I described the symptoms to my friend who works at a vet and she thinks the scab growing larger was a symptom of a bite. The fact that there were 2 scabs makes me think a snake, but no clue what did it yet. I think a venomous snake would do more damage and I’ve never seen any near my house.

Lnn on February 16, 2019:

Did you keep the wound open to air out or with a gauze or bandage?

Darlene in SC on December 23, 2018:

Be careful! My sheltie was bitten by a brown recluse spider(s). First sign was total paralysis of back half of body including legs, screaming in pain, extreme panting, constant body shaking. Was treating for spinal stroke, however hair was covering bites. Multiple 4 inch areas already necrotic black by the time the specialists identified bites. At least 3 areas, maybe more. $8000 later, 1 week in vet specialist hospital, and now 1 week home on 5 medications, sheltie is beginning to walk again. Has 25 staples from surgery to remove necrotic tissues. Walking like a drunk sailor now, but 3 weeks after event learning to walk again. Have not found source of bites. Can kill your dog. Mine was 1 1/2 years old and still had a very hard time. I am 74 and also had a very hard time taking care of immobile 30 lb pet, expelling urine, and carrying him up and down steps. But he is lovely and will walk for Christmas. No better gift from God!

Natalie on June 27, 2018:

Thank you for posting this! I just took my Beagle to the vet this morning with what was apparently a Wolf Spider bite. It looks exactly like the bite on your little dog. I never would have thought a Wolf Spider could do something like this. You live, you learn I guess.

Sandra on May 22, 2018:

You story was very informational thank you. My Maggie had a red bump bout the size of a marble to appear one morning, I’m not really sure what it was but she really didn’t act any different. I started putting hemp oil on it and it seem to start to flatten out after about a week. It looks as if it is healing and getting smaller. It’s been about 3 weeks now, not inflamed anymore and going away. After reading your story I do believe it was a spider bite.

Suzanne on May 01, 2018:

I also have a problem with Wolf Spiders but I sprayed around the exterior doors and windows with a Euculyptus solution and put cedar mulch in the flower beds and that has helped tremendously.

Karen on March 27, 2018:

My dog has a lil white pimple on her head what coyld this be?

Rachel Tuckett on January 13, 2018:

Dog home. $10

Michelle Bradley on March 06, 2017:

Spiders perform a useful task in our ecosystem. They keep flies and disease carrying mosquitoes down. Usually they are shy unless provoked or protecting eggs. I think we should be able to live together harmoniously. F I find a poisonous spider in my house I remove it to the outside where it can hunt prey. Live and let live. The same goes for snakes ;-)

miss cellany on May 23, 2016:

I've coexisted peacefully with the spiders in my flat for 6 years or so, never been bitten.

Last night though, my dog's face was swollen (she looked like a sharpei) I assume it must have been a spider bite as it was too late for bees or wasps to have been out and about. Poor girl! I put baking soda and water mixture on her face and she went to sleep - not sure whether to take her to the vet or not. Swelling looks like it's coming down now.

stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on March 01, 2016:

Hi, I wanted to read this on the spiders as we have a new spider it has a bright green on it. I have been bit two times, and it leaves a black and blue mark. I had the house exterminated and so far so good. I am glad you are fine. Watch out for the new green and black spiders, people think they were brought to Fl. and mixed with our Fl. spiders.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on December 22, 2014:

Hi, LindaSarhan I still am on guard at all times! I shake out my bed linens before going to bed at night, and I am on the lookout all the time for spider webs in my apartment!

Baby's hair is finally growing back, but it looks like the hair will be straight instead of curly. Isn't that strange? Oh, well, at least she isn't bald from the bite. Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary

Linda Sarhan from Lexington KY USA on December 22, 2014:

*cringes* I do not like spiders at all, but those wolf spiders have a special kind of attitude. I am glad that your dog is better.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on December 15, 2014:

Hi, peachpurple. Yep! Whenever I see a spider now, I don't try to find out if it is poisonous or not. I smack him! I never want to go through this experience again!

peachy from Home Sweet Home on December 15, 2014:

so next time when i see a spider, regardless of type, should i use my sandles and smack them to death?

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on November 20, 2014:

Hi, DDE, this was really a scary experience for me and Baby. I just hope we are never bitten again!

Wonder if you have spiders in Croatia? They are very common here in Florida.

Yes, we are fine now, although I think Baby will have a permanent scar. The hair is not growing back (yet). My best, Mary

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 20, 2014:

These photos look scary. Just to think of what those spiders can do to one is frightening. I am glad you wrote about it. I know more from your experience. Hope all is well now?

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on November 07, 2014:

Yes, I was really worried about Baby! I just hope it never happens again to either of us! I still live in fear of these spiders.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on November 07, 2014:

I'm so glad you both are better. Poor Baby. I would be so scared for my dog. And for you, too! The pictures really show how awful the bite were!

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on November 05, 2014:

Hi favored, Thank so much for reading about my experience with a spider bite. Although it seems to be rare for a dog to be bitten by a Wolf spider because of their hair, it can really happen. What a scary experience!

Thanks for sharing so other pet owners may be aware.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on November 05, 2014:

Hi, teaches12345 You know, I have lived here in FL. since 1965, and I've seen all kinds of poisonous snakes, scorpions, etc. but this was my first encounter with a spider bite!

I'm not sure I am rid of them to tell you the truth. I can only hope!

Fay Favored from USA on November 05, 2014:

I saw this post a few days ago but waited to read it so I wouldn't rush. Thank you for posting this important information along with the photos and video. Making sure to add this to my pet board and sharing it as well. Glad you two are doing better.

Dianna Mendez on November 05, 2014:

Those wolf spiders are so big! Living here in the south, one must be cautious and look out for these spiders. I hope you are rid of them and never experience a bite again, Mary.

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on October 31, 2014:

When we first moved to Florida, I killled a Daddy Long Legs spider and Hubby had a fit! He told me never to kill one of those as they ate harmful bugs and other spiders. I guess he was a "normal" house spiders! I don't like any of them!!

Nell Rose from England on October 30, 2014:

We have normal house spiders, they are horrible but they don't bite, but we do have something called a false widow, which does bite, but has only recently been discovered, yuck!

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on October 30, 2014:

Hi , drbj. How nice to see you!! I've never been exactly fond of spiders; I just left them alone, but now I am very afraid of the Wolf Spider!!

I live in fear that we will get another bite from one of these spiders.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Mary

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on October 30, 2014:

Hi, Nell, I wish I could say I have caught some spiders in those traps, but I have not! I just keep catching ants, but since the spiders feed on the ants, I guess that's a good thing.

Yes, I'm very careful now with the bed linens.

Wonder if you have these pesky spiders where you live? I hope not.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary

drbj and sherry from south Florida on October 30, 2014:

I have never liked spiders, Mary, and now after this devastating experience for both you and Baby, I like them even less. So sorry that you both suffered so much from this poisonous spider bite and hope it NEVER recurs.

Nell Rose from England on October 30, 2014:

I am glad you are both recovering now from those awful spider bites. good idea to put traps down, but it must be awful to think you may be bitten in the night again. Just make sure your bed is well away from the wall, in fact the further into the room the better, don't let the bedclothes hang down to the floor, and give a quick check before getting in as you said, horrible things spiders!

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on October 30, 2014:

Hi, Peggy W Yes, this was a very scary experience being bitten by the Wolf Spider! At least that is the spider the Drs. suspected. We are both recovered now, but I live in fear that we may be bitten again!

Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and sharing with others. My best to you, Mary

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 30, 2014:

Wow Mary! What a scary experience for you as well as your precious dog Baby. I am glad you have both recovered. Sharing this information with others. Hope neither one of you is ever bitten again!

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on October 30, 2014:

Hi, Lissa Clason. What a horrible experience to be bitten multiple times by a Wolf Spider!! I can't imagine. Just the one bite was bad enough for me. I can just see in my imagination how bruised you must have been. I'll bet you shake out your jacket like I shake out my bed linens!

Yes, thank you, Baby and I are both fine now, Mary

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on October 30, 2014:

Hi there, oceansnsunsets Oh, how nice that you remembered my Hubs about my old house! Those "tours" are still here. I had a lot of blood, sweat and tears in that old house, but it was time to let it go.

My grandchildren still cry over the loss of the house, because they spent so many happy hours there.