Although most spider bites inflict little more than mild pain and inflammation in people and pets, there are a few types of spiders that can cause serious complications. To protect your family and pets from dangerous spider bites, it’s advised to regularly dust and vacuum your home, cut down on clutter to reduce the likelihood of a spider habitat, and to keep pets and children out of basements and crawl spaces where spiders might be living.
The three types of spiders in the U.S. to watch out for are:
There are several species of widow spiders including the southern black widow spider, the western black widow spider, the northern widow spider, the red-legged widow spider and the brown widow spider.
These spiders like to hang out in dark, isolated places. They only bite defensively, so cats are more likely to receive severe bites than dogs because of their tendency to “play” with and harass spiders. Widow bites leave puncture wounds that are about 1-2 mm apart. Symptoms of a widow spider bite include pain, redness of the skin, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, and an elevated heart rate. If left untreated, the bite can cause vomiting, diarrhea, paralysis, and death. If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a widow spider, immediately seek veterinary attention. Most animals recover within two to three days and fatalities are fairly uncommon.
Tarantulas are recognizable by their furry bodies. They’re most commonly found in the central, southwestern, and western areas of the country. Tarantulas produce venom, so bites can cause pain in dogs and cats. Also, ingestion of the hair that covers the tarantula’s legs can cause pain, oral irritation, and vomiting. Serious complications aren’t common with tarantula bites, but always consult with a veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.
Brown Recluse and Hobo Spiders
The brown recluse can be identified by the distinctive fiddle-shaped marking on its back. Although the brown reclose is nocturnal and not aggressive, bites can sometimes still occur, causing cellular damage. They’re commonly found in the southern states. Hobo spiders, commonly found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska, can also cause cellular damage. They are more aggressive and are most often found in basements. Recluse spider venom destroys cell membranes and, if absorbed into the blood stream, can cause anemia. Symptoms of a recluse bite include pain, swelling, and redness. As the tissue around the bite begins to die, wounds can grow as long as several inches and take months to heal. If you suspect your pet bas been bitten by one of these spiders, contact a veterinarian immediately.