SE Qld’s spiders to look out for:
White tailed spider
Toowoomba Trapdoor spider
Giant Grey Huntsman
Eastern Mouse spider
2 x False Funnel-web spiders
To name but a few!
In SE Qld there is a recorded 53 spider species and what is alarming to me is that I calculated 21 of them with a venom toxicity level of ‘uncertain’ and 6 where the toxicity level is ‘unknown’1.
The information regarding the above spiders with their combined total of 424 legs!! is a bit short on their impact to dogs, however if there are 27 species where no one knows their toxicity level and 10 with a known level of toxicity, one might surmise that one of these little arachnids could upset the lives of our dogs.
“If the Veterinarian community informs us there is a list of signs and symptoms that could arise after a spider bite, then this says to me that a risk exists and that my dog could become gravely ill if bitten by the wrong spider”.
Spiders will generally run off after they bite their prey, so you won’t necessarily know if the spider that bit your dog was a dangerous one. My point is to not get too caught up on which spider bit your dog but to arm yourself as dog owners on how best to manage the adverse reactions from a bite.
If you are aware of the spiders in your area or you saw the spider make sure you advise your Vet.
Many spiders are just too small to dig their fangs into the skin of a dog, let alone cause envenomation, and that is a huge relief if you ask me. However, for those spiders who do have the capacity here is what can happen:
A spider’s fangs penetrate the skin; injects venom from glands, filled with neurotoxin, into the blood stream, impacting brain and heart function.
Some spiders, like the White tail and the Orb spider, has the potential to cause Necrotising Arachnidism; where the spider bite causes the death of cells in an organ or tissue.
Other spiders may cause localised swelling, ulceration, joint pain or mild illness, and
Of course, one dog may experience a reaction where another dog may not.
Either way consider all spider bites as serious; call your Vet to discuss your dog’s signs and symptoms.
Learn about the spiders in your local area and study up the best way to respond, remove or eradicate
Keep backyard clear of: equipment; stacked wood; piled leaves; and keep grass mowed
Maintain a pest control management plan for your home
Don’t ignore signs such as crying in the moment or continuous licking, blood on fur or limping
Keep your dog on a leash when walking in parks and bush lands
Inspect your backyard whenever you move your dog outside to play especially after rains
If you can prove identification of the spider for your Vet, take a photo but only if safe to do so
The Toowoomba Funnel-web comes out especially after rains so if you are a bush walker in the range or Lockyer Valley keep your eye out
When living near a construction zone in bushlands be especially vigilant for disrupted habitats
signs & symptoms
Have a look at the following signs and symptoms; a sign will be e.g. bite wound and the symptom would be e.g. difficulty breathing.
This list will assist you in diagnosing the dog’s condition as being bitten by a spider.
The most common areas where a dog is bitten are head, face, paws and legs. Bear in mind though that a dog may endure multiple bites, so treat any and all puncture sites regardless of location.
Localised pain or joint pain
Dog experiencing anxiety
Swelling around bite area
Lesion or skin turning black at bite site
Dog shivering / shaking or sweating
Limping or paw lifted when walking
Unable to get up and stand
Nausea or vomiting
Consider all spider bites serious if you are unsure whether it is of the venomous variety or not
1. Undertake Primary Assessment DRSABC
a) Check for Dangers – a danger may be that your at risk of being bitten you’re your frightened dog; the spider is still around your dog. Do not try to catch or kill the spider if not confident or experienced
b) Is your dog responding to your voice or your touch? If not, your dog may be unconscious
c) Send for help; if there is someone else in the house get them to do things like get the first aid kit, prepare the car, call the Vet. They may help you lift your dog
d) Check the airway for blockages or foreign objects; remove if there is.
e) Check the breathing (respirations) e.g. count the rise and fall of the chest – start artificial respiration if not breathing
f) Check circulation (pulse) – start CPR if no pulse
2. Keep your dog calm and move into a quiet small room, restricting pet’s movement and
3. Put a covered ice pack on bite area to help with the swelling
4. Wrap dog in blanket and place in their bed or in a crate for transport
5. Transport smaller dogs in crate or box
6. If you have a driver, sit in the back with the dog stroking and speaking in a soothing
manner on way to vet
7. Get to vet
If you have someone who can drive you:
If your dog stops breathing, begin artificial respiration
If your dog’s heart stops beating, begin CPR on the way to the vet surgery
FAMILIARISE YOURSELF with the spiders that are found in your area and where they live
1Dr Ron Atkinson BSc (Hons) University of Queensland. www.findaspider.org.au
Fursafe Emergency Dog First Aid Guide