Ugh, spiders! Whether your pet loves chasing after creepy-crawlies or is afraid of arachnids as humans tend to be, spiders can be serious business for pets.
Spider venom can actually be very toxic to pets; the smaller your pet is, the more a spider’s venom will affect them. Some spiders, such as wolf spiders, aren’t nearly as dangerous as they look. If you have any indication your pet may have been bitten by a spider, see a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Which spiders does your pet need to be most wary of?
1. Black Widow Spiders
Black widow spiders are some of the most poisonous in the world. The black widow is only one of five different widow species that live here in the U.S., all of which are highly toxic. They’re often found in tropical climates but they thrive in temperate climates, like those in many parts of California, too.
Female black widows are the most poisonous; they’re much bigger than males. You’ll recognize them by their red or orange “hourglass” markings but beware: immature black widows can be brown, beige, or solid black but are still capable of hurting your pet.
Their venom is 15 times more powerful than that of a rattlesnake and works by attacking the nervous system. Your pet’s bite site may seem red or painful, and serious symptoms can include cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, agitation or muscle rigidity.
2. Brown Recluse Spiders
The brown recluse is also part of a larger, highly-toxic family. It lives all over the United States in dark, warm places. They generally only bite when they feel cornered and are, in fact, quite reclusive just like their name implies. They pose the biggest threat to pets who inadvertently lay on them or chase them with a little too much curiosity.
Brown recluse spiders are usually yellow-brown in color and have a violin-shaped marking on their backs. Just like widows, the females are far more poisonous than the males. Once bitten, a pet will generally develop a ‘bulls-eye’ blister: a red circle surrounding a pale area. Over the course of a few days, the interior tissue will die and the center will grow dark. Fever, lethargy, and even kidney damage may result from the most serious cases.
3. Hobo Spiders
Hobo spiders aren’t afraid of pets or people. They’re known to live near other organisms but they rarely climb vertically meaning your pet may come into contact with one in a basement or underneath a deck. They live in dry, warm environments and are most common in the Western United States. You can identify them by their brown color and large, 2/3″ long bodies.
Bites from hobo spiders may not seem like much at first. The bitten area is likely to turn red and inflamed; after a day or more it may burst and begin to ooze. Adverse effects include everything from headaches to nausea to weakness.
4. Yellow Sac Spiders
Despite their name, yellow sac spiders can actually be any number of colors from yellow to green to pink to tan. The prey last consumed will actually change the spider’s coloration. They live all over the U.S.
Yellow sac spiders are particularly aggressive, often intentionally biting sleeping animals. Their venom is only mildly toxic but can have an effect on smaller animals. The biggest risk comes after-the-fact when the affected tissue can become necrotic.
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