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Could a Brown Recluse Spider Kill a Dog or Cat?

It is very rare for a dog to get bitten by a brown recluse spider. In case where they do, the bite of the brown recluse spider is seldom lethal. However, there may be complications that can lead to secondary infection.

The dog may not even feel the bite. After 3-6 hours signs of the bite may be noticeable. In the case of a cat, the injected venom is toxic but rarely fatal and the effected cat recovers in few weeks.

It’s important to take your pet to the vet to get it checked out if you suspect it has been bitten. The vet may be able to identify the severity of the bite and help prevent secondary infections.

Could a Brown Recluse Spider Kill a Dog or Cat

While spider bites are unlikely to kill your pet, they can be harmful. So, it’s important to make sure the pet’s environment is clean and does not encourage insects and spiders.

Brown Recluse Spider – Quick Overview

Brown recluse spiders or fiddleback spiders are present throughout the Midwest and south-central USA. They live outdoors but are equally adapted to live indoors. They can withstand long periods of heat.

Hunting is done at the night to capture the prey without using a web. Although inhabitants of dark and secluded places, they can be seen during daylight retreating into their irregular webbing, and wandering into clothes, shoes, and bedding.

Signs your Pet was Bitten by a Brown Recluse

Brown recluse spiders are non-aggressive and do not bite until they feel threatened. The bite can occur when the animal rolls over it while it is trapped in the bedding or when the animal disturbs the spider in its space.

In dogs, the reaction at the site of the bite occurs within 2 to 8 hrs. The necrotizing nature of the venom causes the death of the surrounding soft tissues.

Redness on the skin is noticeable along with swelling and development of blisters.  This results in a necrotic open wound which puts the animal at the risk of secondary infections.

Severe complications result when the wound progresses to gangrene. Another serious complication results when the venom affects internal organs when it enters the bloodstream. This leads to the destruction of blood cells, kidney failure, and eventually death.

Symptoms of brown recluse spider bite in cats range from localized pain to organ damage.  The skin displays the signs like redness, swelling, lesions, and blisters. The cat may experience high fever and nausea.

Kidney failure and high blood pressure can result from serious complications. These symptoms are noticeable but can be mistaken for other diseases.

For an accurate diagnosis, the vet must ask a series of questions.

If you suspect your pet has been bitten, take your pet to the vet immediately.

Related Article: Where Do Brown Recluse Spiders Live?

How Vets Treat Brown Recluse Spider Bites

Do not treat a spider bite on a pet yourself. Take it to a professionally trained vet.

In the case of brown recluse spider bites, the treatment targets the skin wound. The initial care includes cleaning the wound using hydrogen peroxide or povidone-iodine.

The vet may use ice packs to reduce inflammation and pain. When the cell destruction is high and the wound becomes bigger, seeking immediate veterinary care is highly recommended.

Your vet will likely prescribe antivenom, IV fluids, and antibiotics to prevent infection.

In severe cases, your vet may recommend surgery to remove the dead cells. The complete healing process may take many months.

Related: Can a Tarantula Kill a Cat?

How to Keep Brown Recluse Spiders Away from your Pet

Once the spiders have established themselves in your house, it is difficult to get rid of them because they reproduce in large numbers and in a short time. You’d need to get a professional pest control expect to control the infestation.

The most effective thing is to discourage the infestation in the first place. Proactively try to prevent the infestation by not letting brown recluse spiders to enter your home.

For this purpose, you should inspect the holes and small openings from outside of your home. Pay close attention to the pipes entering your residence. To keep spiders and other insects out of your home, caulk any cracks with silicone caulk. Do not touch cracks where there are spiders there already.

If you see a spider, chances are there are hundreds of them. Being a prolific breeder, the female brown recluse lays about five sacs of eggs, each containing as many as 50 eggs. Brown recluses are nocturnal and hide in crevices and cracks which makes it easier for them to stay undetected.

Some of the common signs that indicate the brown recluse spider infestation include:

  • Seeing the spider
  • Webs in the corners
  • Symptoms of paralysis and kidney failure in your pet

Depending on your situation, your pest control agent may recommend taking the following measures to help get rid of spiders and minimize their population.

  • Vacuum all the surfaces and remove the webs to keep your home clean. This will deter the insects on which spiders feed.
  • Spray with an approved aerosol insecticide to kill them, following the insecticide’s instructions closely.
  • Setting up sticky traps can help in detecting the presence of a type of spider and other pests but won’t eliminate spiders from your space.

It is important to know that complete elimination of infestation may take several weeks or months. If done without professional intervention, it may even fail.

Make sure you hire pest control companies that use the latest technology to kill the existing spiders and prevent them from reinfestation.

Read More: Four Spider species that look similar to Brown Recluse


Brown recluse spiders prefer dark secluded places and do not bite until your pet sits on the spider, walks through the spider web, or investigates a dark place. If your pet gets bitten, ice packs are effective, but make sure you get your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

If the condition becomes severe, antibiotics are prescribed to treat the infection. Complete healing will take several weeks. To prevent the bite limit the access of your pet to the dark and shady places where spiders may reside.

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