Bites and Your Pets
|I am often asked if a spider can harm animals and the answer
is most certainly "Yes". I thought it would be handy to have some
details on the effects of the most dangerous spiders on animals like
cats and dogs for reference. It's very easy to tell if a
person has been bitten by a spider
but it is quite difficult to do so in
pets especially if they are furry
(such as cats and dogs). Animals are
more prone to infections if spiders
bit them. That is why it is crucial
that you know how to determine if
your pet has a spider bite. A number of venomous spiders exist in the United States that can
harm animal, though very few species of spider are equipped with the fangs and strength to penetrate a dog's thick skin. The black widow, the brown widow and the brown recluse spiders, however, all possess that ability. If you have dogs, it would be wise to find out if these spiders are indigenous to your area and, if they are, to become adept at identifying them.
The difference between a sign and a symptom is one is objective and one is subjective.
Signs & Symptoms:
A sign is something an observer can see, whereas a symptom is felt by the victim. Signs of a spider bite on an
animal include swelling at the site of the bite. The eyelids, earflaps, nose and lips are vulnerable places on a dog because they are not covered by a thick coat of fur and their tissue is thinner than on other parts of the body. You may notice the
animal having difficulty breathing if the bite is on his nose. If the bite occurred in an area that is not covered by fur, you'll see redness, swelling and indications of pain (e.g. the dog licking at the affected area, for example) almost immediately. You may even be able to see the bite's puncture marks.
The symptoms will vary from animal to
animal and depend on the potency of the venom. The first symptom will likely be a sharp pain at the location of the bite, followed later by fever, weakness, and muscle and joint tremors and pain.
As the neurotoxin progresses through the dog's body, you'll notice
the animal growing increasingly excited and anxious. Its muscles may become rigid, and
it might vocalize loudly in response to the severe pain in his back, chest and abdomen. The
animal may show a lack of coordination and be unable to stand.
It may also experience increased blood pressure and heart rate, respiratory collapse due to abdominal muscle paralysis, and seizures. Death can result if the
animal is not quickly given anti-venom treatment.
What to Do:
- Check for swelling -
has been bitten by a spider if
you see inflammation on parts
that have few or no hair at all.
Check your pet's paws, joints,
muzzle and stomach. Although
this doesn't automatically mean
that it is a spider bite, there
is a good chance that it is,
since spiders love to sting
animals in exposed areas of the
- Abnormal lesions -
Brown recluse bites are
large and have a mucous-like
formation on the
skin due to
the rapid infection of the
venom. If not treated
immediately, this could be very
dangerous, even fatal for your
pet. It usually looks like a
- Fur loss - Examine your pet's body and see
if there is a noticeable loss of
fur in patches. This is one of
the signs that a
spider has bitten your dog and
probably the location where the spider has
bitten your cat or dog.
- Fever and joint pain
- Other signs that your pet has a spider bite are fever and joint pains. You can easily do this by observing if your cat or dog is whimpering whenever he sits, stands or lies down. Lack of interaction, irritability and abnormally warm body temperature will show that your pet has a fever and is definitely not feeling well.
- Paralysis and spasms
- Black widow bites are very harmful to your pet because they can cause severe reaction. A cat will drool excessively when bitten by this spider. Other symptoms are paralysis, very painful
spasms and seizures. The symptom itself is pretty much like a sudden epileptic occurrence.
Reply: Please take you pup to the vet if you are
concerned it has been bitten. It looks like a
wolf spider but I'm not sure from your photo - glen
I am worried that my golden retriever puppy was messing with this
guy. We live in Colorado and he was at least 2 inches. Any help
would be greatly appreciated. I am worried about my puppy!!
Widow and Redback
Spiders - Cats and
recognisable by its
black body with
prominent red stripe
on its abdomen.
Females have a body
length of about a
centimetre while the
male is smaller,
being only 3 to 4
Just like us, cats and dogs can fall victim to a widow or
redback bite. Bites are
seldom fatal in dogs
however cats are
more susceptible to
the venom and can
readily die if not
Redback spider bite
symptoms for both
cats and dogs:
- Intense pain at
the bite site
- Restless &
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle tremors
- Paralysis and
- Vomiting and
diarrhoea may occur.
- Cats are often
bitten on the
tongue; the tongue
will often protrude
from the mouth.
If you suspect your
dog has been bitten
by a red back spider
it is important that
you have them
checked by their
vet. However, if
your cat is
suspected of being
bitten you should
contact your vet
without delay. Red
Back antivenin is
affective in saving
them if you don't
Spider Bites in Cats
Spider bites are reportedly rare in cats, but spiders can be fun "toys" for a cat and some spiders' bites are dangerous. What are the symptoms of spider bites in cats? Itchy, red welts can be raised by any insect bite, but what about those dangerous spiders---brown recluse or black widow? Immediate medical attention is the best chance your cat has of surviving a bite from a highly venomous spider, but first you have to be aware that your cat has been bitten.
Cat skin is thicker than most spiders' fangs are long; only three types of spider in North America are known to cause serious damage with a bite: the black widow, one of many species of widow spider; the brown recluse, one of many spiders known as "brown spiders"; and the hobo spider. Symptoms arise long after the spider has bitten and left. The bite itself is painless. To discover which type of spider, you have to analyze the symptoms.
Types of Bites:
Bites from a spider with ---the widow spiders---will cause muscle cramping. This venom causes over-production of neurotransmitters, bringing on seizures in major muscle groups. The cat's muscles and abdomen will feel rigid, and breathing will become rapid and shallow. The diaphragm is a major muscle essential to breathing. Death can occur from seizure of this muscle and effects of the toxin on the heart.
Brown Recluse and Hobo Spiders
Bites from a spider with necrotic venom, such as the brown spiders and hobo spider, cause the breakdown of cellular structure. Tissue damage begins at the bite site, showing as an itchy, red lesion, often with a white ring surrounding it. Bluish or bruised-looking coloration indicates tissue death. This visual cue can go unnoticed until the venom begins working on deeper tissues.
Once the cat has been bitten, symptoms may appear anywhere from 30 minutes to 6 hours later. In the case of a brown spider or hobo spider, the tell-tale white "bull's eye" pattern will appear within 4 to 8 hours. Symptoms of deeper tissue damage such as fever, vomiting, shock, kidney failure and internal bleeding may take 3 to 4 days to show. Muscle rigidity and pain from a black widow bite will last several days in a healthy adult cat and may take up to a month to fully clear. If the cat is going to die from a widow spider bite, experts say death can happen within one day of the bite.
Widow spiders are common worldwide and can be found under things such as houses, woodpiles, rock piles, and inside garages and sheds. Species found within the United States include the common black widow, the western black widow, the red widow and the brown widow. Brown recluse spiders belong to a group of ten brown spider species in North America and are found from the south central Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico. Less familiar brown spider species occupy the Desert Southwest. Hobo spiders can be found in the western United States.
A restless cat who licks a particular spot more than usual or shows other signs of unusual
behaviour related to itchiness should be checked carefully. Watch the cat closely for further warning signs. Look for a red, irritated patch of skin. These symptoms can indicate many issues, but if further symptoms appear such as the "bull's eye" pattern, seek veterinary attention immediately. With a widow spider bite, the cat may not indicate anything is wrong until muscle rigidity and paralysis set in, along with rapid, shallow breathing. Symptoms from hobo spiders, brown spiders and widow spiders are not limited to the site of the bite and quickly spread throughout the body.
Be aware of the presence and possibility of venomous spiders in your
area. Block your cat's access to spider-prone areas such as
woodpiles and sheds, or keep your cat indoors. Spiders can come
inside the house as well. If you choose to remove individual spiders
yourself rather than calling an exterminator, do so carefully---the
spiders' bites cause the same unpleasant symptoms in humans. Your
veterinarian can administer pain relief and muscle relaxants to help
your cat weather the effects of widow spider bites, especially if
caught early. Antivenin is prohibitively expensive and is rarely
administered, reserved for at-risk young or elderly individuals, but
it can help in some cases. Full recovery can take up to a month.
Application of ice packs to the bite location of hobo spider or
brown spider bites can slow the venom's symptoms. Veterinarians will
often use corticosteroid injections to slow or stop the tissue
damage. The earlier this is administered, the better the chances of
the cat's recovery. Drugs used for leprosy in humans can effectively
fight necrotic spider venom. The cat may be put on antibiotics to
combat secondary infections.
Information - Ehow.com
Spider Bites in
Symptoms of a spider bite in a horse may
start out as a pea-sized lump in the centre of a
3-inch-high soft swelling on the side of your
horse's chest. It will resemble a fly bite or
bee sting The hair covering the lump may fall
out, leaving a 50-cent-piece-sized bald spot.
The spot will be pink, raised about a
quarter-inch, and very sore. (Your horse steps
away and/or pins his ears when you touch it.)
The horse will rub it furiously on any available
surface. Over the next few days, the lump will
gradually grow to a hard, fist-sized knot which
will apparently be still very itchy, because
your horse rubs it incessantly and a thick,
greenish-yellow liquid will come out.
1. Call your veterinarian as s.
Why: Although this isn't an emergency
requiring urgent care, your horse needs prompt
veterinary attention. The history of this
particular lesion and your horse's obsession
with scratching it-despite your good
care-suggest that it's the result of a toxic
spider bite, such as from a brown recluse or
black widow. Spider bites are a common
occurrence in autumn. That's when many creatures
move indoors for the winter, often resulting in
horses and arachnids becoming unwitting
When tissues come into contact with spider
venom, they're severely damaged and quickly die,
resulting in an abscess. In this case, the
abscess is a capsule of inflamed tissue clenched
around a liquefying hotbed of dead, dying, and
infected muscle, connective tissue, and nerve
endings. The pain and itch can be intense, as
evidenced by your horse's behaviour.
If diagnosed earlier-and the type of
spider confirmed-then quick and aggressive
veterinary treatment, possibly including
antivenin, can limit the tissue damage by
blocking the destructive action of the venom.
Once the wound becomes necrotic however, the
venom has done its damage and is long gone. Your
only option to resolve the problem with the
least possible scarring will be surgical removal
of all affected tissue.
2. Keep your horse from rubbing the area.
Why: Additional trauma from scratching and
rubbing can enlarge the abscess by forcing its
contents into adjacent tissues. Your horse's
efforts to scratch the itch may also bruise
and/or abrade the affected area.
How: Keep your horse in crossties under
close supervision, occupy him with hand walking,
or confine him in a small, tree-free paddock
with electric fencing. Or, consider hauling him
to your vet's hospital facility, if available,
so your horse can be put in a padded recovery
stall and/or sedated to keep him from rubbing
until his appointment.
3. Withhold food.
Why: Your vet might opt to perform surgery
under a short-acting general anaesthetic, and
there's less chance of complications if your
horse has an empty stomach.
How: Pick up all hay and feed and/or bring
your horse in from pasture. If he'll be in a
stall and is prone to eating his bedding, strip
it out. Make sure he has free access to fresh
water at all times, so he keeps himself well
4. Be aware of spiders.
Why: To lessen the likelihood of a repeat
How: Clean out all undisturbed corners of
the barn and any other sheltered areas where
your horse spends time, to find and eliminate
spider nests. Then keep these areas clear to
discourage spiders from setting up housekeeping.
Woodpiles are favourite habitats for spiders, so
if there are any in or near your horse's shed,
remove them. (Wear heavy gloves, long sleeves,
and long pants-and watch for angry arachnids.)
Also, check hay flakes by giving them a good
shake before letting him dig in.
Good. Thanks to a rich blood supply and
the good drainage effects of gravity, this
particular location should heal normally once
all affected tissue has been removed. Your vet
may decide to leave the wound open, rather than
stitch it closed, so it can drain optimally.
Despite how ugly this looks at first, the crater
usually fills with healthy, pink tissue within a
couple weeks, and within another week or 2, the
skin grows in from the edges, leaving little or
Info: Karen Hayes - Idaho-based equine