Brown Recluse Spider Bites on Dogs

Full Title: Brown Recluse Spider Bites on Dogs

Author: Heather Baublitz

Date of Publication: September 17, 2020


Research Paper Text:

How dangerous are Brown Recluse Spider bites to dogs? A spider’s hemotoxic venom does have the potential to be fatal especially in small dogs. The venom of a brown recluse spider penetrates deeper into the tissues sometimes affecting fat and muscles The Spiders venom causes necrosis in the skin (cell death) As progression goes on the dead cells will turn black and fall off, leaving a gaping wound that may be the width of the hand. The venom destroys the surrounding tissue of the bite. The bite leaves a creator like scar after being healed.

Symptoms appear in 4-8 hours after a bite, a red itchy skin lesion develops around the site. The bite may sometimes have a bullseye look with a white center or a ring around the outside. There may be a blistered area, as well as redness and swelling. Systemic infection can take up to four days to appear: Thirst, fever, vomiting, nausea, anemia, water retention (edema), renal failure, weakness, muscle or joint pain, seizures, swelling, redness, puss, weak pulse, increased heart rate, lethargy, trouble walking, or standing, drooling and diarrhea. Are all just a few symptoms to look for.

How can you tell your dog was bitten by the Brown Recluse Spider? Dogs may yelp, increasingly anxious and excited, some will whine, or excessively lick at the wound site, look for drunk walking. (bites often impact coordination) A brown recluse spider is not an aggressive spider they will not bite unless becoming unintentionally disturbed in its space, like being stepped on or crushed. Brown recluse prefer dark and uninhabited spaces away from humans and animals. They are active at night, building irregular webs under logs, rocks or in a house in closets or cardboard boxes.  The spider is recognizable by its brown in color and the violin shaped mark on its back. But not at spiders have this marking the young don’t receive till older. The recluse spiders have six eyes rather than three.   They measure 8-15 mm in body size and its longish legs around 2-3 cm. The best way to tell what kind of spider the bites from is by capturing it. The standard examination includes a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count and a urinalysis. A coagulation profile may also be used to check your dog’s clotting ability. You can ask your doctor to check for venom, but this is not commonly used unless the brown recluse bite is specifically suspected.

Treatments for the recluse spider bites include Ice packs for redness and swelling, Corticosteroids are often prescribed to stop the necrosis from spreading too much, and it helps contain the venom in the infected cells, and systemic illness from starting.

The brown recluse spider is commonly found in the mid-west section of U.S. West to Colorado and New Mexico. East to Northern Georgia and throughout the southern U.S and up the Mississippi River valley to southern Wisconsin.

My Australian Shepherd was bitten about a year ago now. The wound doubled in size within hours and was red and pussy, by the time I got him to the veterinarian the next morning the wound was larger than my hand the center where the bite was, was still red and pussy. The surrounding area was black.  The veterinarian ran blood work and started anti-biotics immediately, he recommended me to hold ice on it 3-4 times a day and wrap the area so he couldn’t lick at site. Due to the large damaged area, Dr. Mack wanted to sedate Brutus and remove all the damaged tissue from the area within a week.

Every morning and evening I would rub cold Epson salt compresses on the affected area within five days the dead tissue fell off on its own before the procedure to remove it.

References: poison
Personal experience


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