Are Wolf Spiders Poisonous To Dogs?

Might wolf spiders kill your dog? ¹

You went for a walk with Fido. It’s so awesome to see him running through the tall grass in the field. He’s absolutely living his best life, and it’s adorable. You see him pause and poke his nose at something. Probably another frog or something. The silly fur kid is curious, so he constantly pokes his nose at things he probably shouldn’t.

Suddenly, he jumps back with a yelp and rubs his nose with his paws as though his life depended on it. You rush over and pry his paws from his face. Yup, there it is. A large red bump in the middle of his nose. It looks pretty painful, and you realize it’s probably a spider bite.

You heard that there are a ton of wolf spiders in your area. Are they poisonous to dogs? How do you know if it’s a wolf spider? Should you get him to the vet?

What are wolf spiders?

Wolf spiders are a family of agile hunting spiders that hunt down their prey like a wolf (hence the name). There are around 2300 different species of wolf spider, 200 of which live in the US. They look like nursery web spiders, but they carry their egg sacks on their spinnerets instead of their jaw or pedipalps. Say what now? Don’t worry. We had the same perplexed expression. Spinnerets are a spider’s silk-spinning organ. In other words, it’s the bit where the web comes out, just like Tobey Maguire’s Spiderman has on his wrists. Pedipalps are extra appendages on either side of the spider’s mouth that help him touch things and eat his meals.

Wolf spiders measure between half an inch and 2 inches in length. These hairy critters are usually brown, grey, or tan and have Union Jack-like markings on their backs. 

These spiders don’t spin webs since they prefer to hunt using their excellent eyesight. They’re also super fast, so they usually outrun their prey in short sprints.

Their venom is quite scary since it liquefies their prey’s internal organs. 

Which type of habitat do wolf spiders live in?

They hunt insects literally anywhere they can find them and live just about anywhere, except the extreme polar regions. You’ll typically find them on the ground, but sometimes, one or two go tree climbing. They’ll look for warm places to hide when it gets cold out, such as your home. Here, you’ll likely find them in places they can hide, but they also hang out in door frames, windows, and other places where they can stalk insects.

You can find these versatile spiders on every continent except Antarctica. Some wolf spiders prefer specific habitats, like tropical forests, deserts, beaches, or grasslands. Others cope well in various locations and are found quite widely.

The Kauai cave wolf spider is an example of a super picky species. You can only find them in caves on Hawaii’s Kauai Islands.

What parts of the US can wolf spiders be found in?

You can find wolf spiders just about everywhere in the US. The Carolina wolf spider is the official state spider of South Carolina (that’s the only state to have a state spider). So, as you can imagine, they’re pretty common there. There are also significant populations in Missouri, California, Texas, and Hawaii’s Kauai Islands.

Are wolf spiders poisonous to dogs?

Wolf spiders aren’t usually aggressive, but if they’re continually provoked, they’ll inject their venom into whoever is bugging them. Females who have mated and are carrying an egg sack often act aggressive, so look out for them. The sack is a papery white ball hanging from the spinneret with a clear circular ridge.

A wolf spider bite is painful in humans, resulting in some swelling, itching, and mild pain, but it’s not harmful.

While a wolf spider’s bite could be quite painful for your fur kid, they’re not considered poisonous. Some dogs are allergic to the venom, though, which could cause some issues for your pup. If your pup shows any symptoms of an allergic reaction or any other symptoms that raise concern, take him to the vet.

What does a wolf spider bite look like?

Wolf spiders have large jaws, so their bite packs quite a punch. Dogs usually get bitten on the nose or paws since that’s where the spider can reach his skin without wading through a sea of fur. That makes sense since these spiders are super fast, hit-and-run types of attackers.

This site will show up as a red bump and will probably burn and itch like mad.

What are the symptoms of a wolf spider bite?

Wolf spider bites burn like blazes, and they tend to itch a lot. If your pup is bitten by a wolf spider, he’ll probably lick the area like mad. If he’s bitten on the paws, he might even limp for a bit. Luckily, it goes away rather quickly, so he’ll be back to normal in no time.

How can a wolf spider bite be treated?

Since wolf spiders aren’t poisonous, your pup usually wouldn’t need treatment if they get bitten by one. If your pup is allergic, he could suffer some unwanted side effects. So, if your fur kid gets bitten from going too close to a wolf spider, call the vet for advice. They’ll probably tell you to keep an eye on your pup and bring him in if any other symptoms develop.

Are wolf spiders poisonous to humans?

No, they’re not. The bite will still itch and burn like mad for a bit, though. Luckily, it goes away rather quickly.

What other spiders in the US are poisonous to dogs?

Most of the spiders we find in the ‘States aren’t poisonous to dogs. They usually don’t even pack much of a punch in their bite. Unfortunately, there are a few that could cause serious harm to our beloved fur kids. Since spiders don’t generally hang around and gloat over their victims, it’s often hard to determine just what bit your dog. That’s where the guesswork starts because you won’t necessarily know if it’s a severe bite by just looking at it. If you’re not sure, phone the vet. They’ll walk you through what to look out for.

Here are some of the most common poisonous and venomous spiders found in the US:

  • Any spider from the widow group. The black widow is the.
  • The brown recluse spider.
  • Tarantulas. Fun fact: while their bite is excruciating, they’re not poisonous to humans. They can kill dogs, though.

If any of these three bite your pups, he needs immediate medical attention. They’re extremely dangerous to dogs, and their bite can be lethal.

How to identify a spider bite?

Different spiders have different bites. Correctly identifying the culprit helps you administer the correct treatment. Here are some symptoms of the most common venomous spiders:

Brown Recluse Spider

Experts disagree on what a brown recluse spider’s bite looks like for dogs, so let’s go on what it looks like for humans:

  • Pain and itchiness
  • Target lesion around the bite. Here, the skin loses blood, turns black, and is surrounded by redness.
  • Fever, rash, nausea, chills, joint pain.
  • The dark area blisters and falls off about a week after the bite, leaving a deep ulcer. This doesn’t heal.

Black Widow

If a black widow didn’t inject much venom, your pup could show signs only weeks later. Severe bites are a different story:

  • Cramping and tremors
  • Pain
  • Hard belly
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Swelling


Tarantula bites hurt like blazes. If your pup fights back and bites down on the tarantula, his mouth will probably hurt. Then, the spider’s stiff hair would cause your fur kid to vomit and drool. Here are some symptoms that will help you identify a tarantula bite:

  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Puss
  • Weak pulse

Photo credits

¹ Photo by Phil Cohen on Flickr

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!