While you may know to stay away from spiders, the same isn't true for dogs. When your dog sees a black widow spider in your home or backyard, they may get too close and get bitten. Here are three things you need to know about dogs and black widow spider bites.
How do dogs get bitten?
Black widow spiders aren't aggressive, so despite their scary reputation, they aren't roaming around your home or garden looking for dogs (or people) to bite. They bite in self defense, so if your dog is bitten, it means they got too close to a spider and threatened it.
This may happen if your dog inquisitively sniffs a black widow spider that they've discovered on your property. Some dogs like to eat spiders and other bugs, and a black widow spider obviously won't be thrilled with this!
To keep your dog safe, keep them on a leash outdoors and monitor them to make sure they're not getting too close to spiders. Indoors, try to keep your house clean and clutter-free so there are fewer places for black widow spiders to hide.
What are the signs of a bite?
Unless you see the spider's interaction with your dog, you probably won't know that they were bitten. While you may be able to see fang marks on a human who's been bitten by a spider, your dog's fur will hide this type of evidence.
Once the venom takes effect, you may notice that your dog is walking strangely—like they're drunk—or that they're drooling or vomiting. They may have tremors, seizures or become paralyzed. These signs will seem like they came out of nowhere if you didn't see the spider. If you notice these signs, your dog needs to be seen by an emergency vet right away.
How can your vet help?
Your vet can make your dog more comfortable with treatments like intravenous fluids or pain medications. If they're having seizures, anti-seizure medications can be used to treat that symptom. Other symptomatic treatments, like breathing assistance, can also be used, if necessary.
An antivenom is also available, so if you saw a black widow spider near your dog before their symptoms began, make sure to tell your vet. This antivenom may be necessary if your dog is suffering from severe symptoms.
If you think your dog has been bitten by a black widow spider, take them to an animal hospital like Loving Care Animal Hospital.