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Spider Bites on Dogs
It can be difficult to accurately detect a spider bite on a dog because spider bites, insect bites, and bee stings can all bring about a red itchy spot on the dog’s skin. Fortunately, symptoms of spider bites tend to be the same in dogs as they are in humans, and therefore, if diagnosed promptly, can be taken care of easily. Though most all spiders in America are venomous, there are only a few with fangs long enough to bite through a dogs skin. In America there are only three types of spiders that tend to be a real threat to dogs; the hobo spider, the black widow, and the brown recluse. Any bite should be promptly examined because once the spider, venomous or not, has bitten the dog they will leave unnoticed because the bite itself is completely painless.
The venom of a black widow spider is a neurotoxin. This means that once the venom has entered the dog’s skin it will affect the nervous system and the dog’s muscles will begin to involuntarily cramp for days. Because the diaphragm is going to be cramping it is common for the dog to experience respiratory distress. This can be identified by rapid and shallow breathing in the dog.
The venom of hobo spiders or brown recluse spiders is quite different and therefore has different symptoms to look for. This type of venom is called a necrotic, and will kill the tissue by breaking down the structure of the cells. These spiders will leave itchy red skin lesions that will begin to bleed irregularly. Cysts will develop and the bite will become surrounded by a white ring. The center of the bite might turn bruised-looking and bluish.
DO I NEED TO TAKE MY DOG TO THE VETERINARIAN?
Again, once the bite is noticed, medical attention should be promptly sought. Muscle relaxants and pain medications do exist to help alleviate the symptoms of spider bites in dogs. However, the venom must work its’ way through and recovery won’t happen until a few days later. Keep in mind that typically antivenin is usually reserved for very young or elderly dogs that are at higher risk for more serious effects. To slow the symptoms of hobo spider and brown recluse spider bites a cold pack can be placed on the affected area. In addition, if caught early enough, a veterinarian can provide corticosteroids to stop the damage of the skin tissue.
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