Do you need to panic if a wolf spider has bitten your dog? Thankfully, no. Wolf spiders are not venomous. Their bites might cause mild pain, small, localized swelling or itchiness, which we discuss how to treat later in the post. But, in general, they are not something to worry about too much.
Saying this is all very well and good until your precious dog is suddenly crying, limping, and holding their foot up off the ground for no apparent reason, scaring the living daylights out of you at the moment.
Read on to learn what to do besides panic.
The 6 Steps to Treat Wolf Spider Bite on Dog
1. Assess the Situation
Most of the time, you might not even know what caused this sudden display of pain. Unless you see the spider, you aren’t going to know the source, for sure.
At the moment, the most important thing is to assess the likelihood of it being a wolf spider bite versus something more serious, such as a black widow, brown recluse, snake, or bee/wasp sting. If you suspect something more venomous bit your dog, they will probably need to go to the vet, whereas if it is a wolf spider bite they will not (unless complications arise).
2. Remain Calm
If your dog suddenly acts like they were bitten or stung, the first thing to do is not panic. If you panic while your dog is panicking, your dog will read the situation and panic more.
It’s almost like they think to themselves, “I knew I should be panicking because the human is panicking!” If you remain calm, they will be much calmer.
3. Look for the Bite
You might be able to find the wolf spider bite itself, especially if it swells. But they are probably not going to bleed enough for you to find them that way. And, more than likely, they will not swell enough for you to find them.
Most of the time, the only way you will know your dog was bitten is because they will suddenly cry in pain, limp, or carry their foot off the ground. Or they will suddenly chew or scratch a specific spot.
Luckily the pain and swelling will be transitory; it should become less sharply acute within about 5–20 minutes and retreat to something a little less dramatic. But dogs come in at all levels of drama—isn’t that right, Huskies?
4. Use a Cold Pack to Relieve the Pain
If you can find the exact spot and really want to do something to help, a little bit of time with a cold pack might help reduce the swelling and pain, but do not place the ice directly onto their skin.
Make sure it is lightly wrapped up to diffuse the cold. And do not keep it directly on them for longer than 2–3 minutes without taking it off and checking that the skin is not getting too cold.
When you use an icepack on yourself, you can tell when it gets too cold and remove it, or you can tell someone to remove it before it causes damage or cold burns. But a dog doesn’t have those skills, and an ice pack can easily cause more damage than it does any good.
5. Have Them Walk It Off or Distract Them
Left alone, a wolf spider bite will heal quickly and disappear. However, some dogs might scratch or chew the painful spot and create an open wound over the bite.
This is why walking it off might be a better option. Take them for a nice distracting walk so they don’t overgroom it and have other things to think about while the stinging dissipates.
If you can’t bring them for a distracting walk, you can try other tricks, like keeping them busy, monitoring them, and interrupting chewing or scratching. If you have the “Cone of Shame”, put it on them. This is an extreme technique for sure, but definitely the most effective.
The pain should subside quickly. If you are monitoring them and interrupting them when they chew at the bite, remember to be patient. While it can be frustrating at the time, just remember you are not going to have to do this for the rest of your life, just until they feel better.
6. Look for Complications
While most wolf spider bites will heal, there is the chance they could get infected—especially if the dog overgrooms the bite and creates skin abrasions in the area. Watch for signs of infection:
If your dog develops signs of infection after a spider bite, bring them to the vet for medical treatment.
What Does a Venomous Bite Look Like?
If you aren’t sure what bit your dog, the best thing you can do is to watch your dog carefully. If they develop any one of the signs listed below, take them to the vet.
Often diseases have multiple signs, but if your dog develops any of these signs after you know or suspect they were bitten by something, start making that vet appointment. Any one of these signs alone could be an early indicator of more severe problems coming.
Wolf spider bites might be slightly painful, or they might go completely unnoticed. Making sure your dog doesn’t make it worse is the best thing to do. And, possibly moving somewhere where there are no spiders at all would also be good.
Featured Image Credit: Magalie st-hilaire poulin, Pixabay