What to Do When a Spider Bites Your Pet?

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Some people think of spiders as good luck, but they are not lucky for your pet cat or dog when a spider bites him. Spider bites can make your pets sick or even kill them.

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A spider may be in the pet’s bedding and bites when it rolls on it. Cats often encounter spiders when they go into small dark places where spiders also like to hide. Spiders also like to live in piles of stuff.

You can care for most bites at home. Use an ice pack to lessen pain and keep the poison from spreading. Keep the wound clean and disinfect it with betadine or providone iodine.

Two type of spiders, the black widow and the brown recluse, can cause dangerous illness or death of your pet. Young or elderly animals suffer the worst effects due to their compromised immune systems. When possible, catch the spider so the vet can identify it and use the right anti-venom.

Black widow

Black widow

A black widow bite can be especially dangerous. Its bite releases a dangerous neurotoxin that causes muscle spasms and paralysis.

The black widow is a shiny black color. It shows a red or orange hourglass symbol on its abdomen. Young females are brownish and have stripes across the abdomen. The shape becomes recognizable as an hourglass as they mature.

Black widow bites often cause muscle spasms and paralysis. Other symptoms include severe pain at the bite site, difficulty breathing, loss of coordination and death. Your cat or dog needs veterinary care quickly.

Brown Recluse

Brown Recluse

The brown recluse is small and brown, usually less than an inch long. It has very long legs. It has a pattern of six eyes instead of eight. You can tell it is a recluse when you see a violin-shaped marking on its abdomen. The long part of the violin extends to the tail of the spider.


A brown recluse bite causes the area around the bite wound to necrotize, with ulcers and destruction of the surrounding soft tissue. The wound causes intense pain. The wound can turn to gangrene with red cell destruction, kidney failure and death. The vet cuts away dead skin and disinfects the site.

Some pets seem immune to the effects but it is always wise to have him seen. Often, wound care is all that is needed.  A very ill pet needs care in a veterinary hospital.

Sometimes, you can’t avoid spiders and they like to bite, especially when someone intrudes on their territory or if they feel threatened. Sometimes your pet is bitten. Your quick actions and tender loving care make the difference between life and death when it is bitten by something poisonous.

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