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Redback Spider signs of evenomation in dogs and cats

Red back spider


The Redback spider is the main spider in Australia that can cause signs of envenomation in dogs and cats. There is considerable variation amongst species with susceptibility to envenomation. The guinea pig, horse and camel are very susceptible while the dog is relatively resistant to the effects of the venom. It is seldom lethal in dogs unless a considerable number of bites are inflicted. The susceptibility of the cat probably lies between that of guinea pigs and dogs.



  • Gastro-intestinal disturbances (vomiting, diarrhoea) 
  • Generalised tremors or clonic contractions of skeletal muscle
  • Rigidity of abdominal wall, irregular breathing due to muscular contractions of thorax and abdomen 
  • Malaise, paresis, prostration 
  • Recovery in previously healthy dogs



  • Hyper excitability, salivation
  • Muscle fasciculation, mucoid ropey or frothy saliva with sporadic protrusion of the tongue and ataxia

Diagnosis in animals is very difficult unless the bite has been witnessed and the culprit found and identified. No specific investigation aids the diagnosis and there are no methods to detect the venom.


Animal Accident & Emergency is running 1 day Pet First Aid Courses on Sunday 10th & 24th November 2013, 1st & 15th December 2013.


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