Why is it important?There are several species of spider in Australia which can affect pets, with symptoms varying from local irritation to potential fatality. Spider species of most concern include the Redback Spider, Funnel-Web Spider, White-tail Spider and the Australian Tarantula species.
What causes it?When spiders bite humans or animals, their venom contains a toxin which can cause a variety of effects depending on the spider species, varying from local irritation, to an area of tissue necrosis, to more widespread pain and neurological symptoms leading to death.
What animals are at risk?Both dogs and cats can be affected by spider bites. The most common situations where pets may be bitten by spiders include if they are sleeping in areas where these spider species are present, or if they come into contact with the spiders when walking outside. Curious young animals may also be at risk if they discover and try to play with a spider that is nearby. Spiders can be present almost anywhere in Australia, with some spider species only found in certain geographical areas.
What are the symptoms?
Whilst not common, with the more venomous spider species, symptoms can progress to neurological symptoms such as weakness, muscle tremors and paralysis, or more general symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness and breathing difficulties.
Depending on the individual situation, a common red flag for a spider bite on a pet may be a small focal area of pain, swelling, irritation or tissue necrosis.