The Danger of Spider Bites to Your Dog: Photos of the Wolf Spider Bite My Dog Suffered
Spiders Were Present 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
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!
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, 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!
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.
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 for 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.
Video: How to Keep Your Dog Safe From Spider Bites
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.
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.
3 Days After the Spider Bite
5 Days After the Spider Bite
8 Days After the Spider Bite
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.
3 Weeks After the Spider Bite
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!
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 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 in lawns.
Are You Afraid of Spiders?
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