If you live in the southern Midwest, you're familiar with the brown recluse spider. Known by the violin shape on its back, this nonaggressive spider does bite when disturbed or threatened. A bite from the brown recluse causes death of tissue cells. Your dog's fur and the spider's size make finding a bite hard and diagnosis difficult.
A bite from the brown recluse, especially when venom transfer is mild, may not produce symptoms. Symptoms include fever, chills, weakness, nausea and joint pain. At the site of the bite, pain and stinging can occur. A lesion forms at the site with a central scab and red background. Within a few weeks, the venom eats away the tissue, leaving an open ulcer. In cases of extremely potent venom, bleeding disorders and liver and kidney damage can occur.
In mild cases, treatment with a cold compress can reduce pain and swelling at site. If no other symptoms are present, this may be enough. In severe cases, transfusions help to send fresh blood to the wound. If the venom destroys large amounts of cells and tissue, surgery may be necessary to remove the dead tissue. Unfortunately, no antivenin against the brown recluse exists.
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