It might sound like an obscure question, but many dog owners are often puzzled by the different things these four-legged friends seem to find appetizing.
From beetles to slugs, some dogs will chow down on just about anything, and sometimes, even spiders! What’s the truth behind this? Can dogs eat spiders? Do they have an instinctive desire to do so?
The answer may surprise you: yes and no.
It all depends on the breed of dog you have and their individual eating habits. While some breeds do show a propensity for snacking on small arachnids, others are far less inclined. In reality, dogs are more interested in spiders and other little insects as playthings – not food.
Dogs don’t typically seek out spiders as a primary food source. While their canine ancestors, the wolves, are known to have diverse diets, domestic dogs have evolved to be more dependent on the foods provided by their human caretakers. However, their innate curiosity and predatory instincts might lead them to snap at a spider scuttling across the floor.
Why Do Dogs Eat Spiders Sometimes?
Despite their lack of evolutionary need for arachnids, some dogs may still be prone to noshing on spiders. It’s not that because they’re hungry, but rather because spiders may provide a source of stimulation or entertainment.
Much like cats, dogs love to chase and capture their prey – in this case, a spider. Although they don’t consume the arachnids, they do enjoy playing with them.
Curiosity and Playfulness
First and foremost, dogs are naturally curious and playful creatures. They are attracted to moving objects, and a spider skittering across the floor can seem like a tantalizing plaything.
In the midst of their play, a dog might accidentally ingest the spider. This is especially common among puppies who are still exploring their environment and learning about the world.
Moreover, some dogs may actually experience a sense of reward for catching and playing with spiders.
Much like cats, dogs are predatory animals, and stalking and capturing prey can be an exciting game. The act of hunting stimulates their mind and releases happy hormones that create a feeling of satisfaction.
Yes, even dogs get bored. In the absence of toys or human interaction, dogs can resort to alternative forms of amusement.
A wandering spider can present such an opportunity, transforming from an arachnid into an interactive toy. Some dogs may even eat the spider purely because they have nothing else to do.
Another reason why dogs might eat spiders stems from their predatory instincts. Dogs descended from wolves, which are known for their hunting prowess.
Even though domestic dogs have been bred away from their wild ancestors, some of these instincts still remain.
A small, moving arachnid could trigger these ingrained predatory instincts, causing the dog to pounce and possibly eat the spider.
Exploration Through Mouth
Dogs, much like human toddlers, explore their world by putting things into their mouths. They might pick up a spider in their mouth out of curiosity, and in the process, they may accidentally swallow it.
It’s not so much about them wanting to eat the spider, but about them wanting to understand what this scuttling creature is.
Lack of Food Distaste
Unlike humans, dogs do not typically have an aversion to spiders or insects due to their look or feel. The concept of ‘icky bugs’ is a human construct that dogs don’t share.
So if a dog comes across a spider, it doesn’t see something disgusting, but rather a potential snack or a plaything.
What Happens if a Dog Eats a Spider?
If a dog does end up eating a spider, the typical result is no harm done. Most common household spiders are harmless to dogs.
They don’t carry diseases, and their venom isn’t potent enough to cause serious harm to a dog’s health. The spider would simply pass through the dog’s digestive system without much incident.
However, it’s important to note that this is not always the case. There are certain types of spiders that can pose a threat to your dog’s health.
For example, the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse, both found in various regions of the United States, have venom that can be harmful to dogs.
If a dog ingests one of these spiders, it could result in symptoms such as muscle pain, abdominal discomfort, or even more severe conditions like paralysis.
In such cases, it’s crucial to seek immediate veterinary care. Your vet will be able to provide the necessary treatment, which might include antivenom, pain relief, or supportive care to help your pet recover.
Always observe your dog’s behavior after it has eaten a spider. If you notice any signs of discomfort, unusual behavior, or illness, it’s best to consult your vet promptly.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Spiders
Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some ways you can discourage your dog from eating spiders:
Regular Stimulation and Exercise
Making sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation can help alleviate boredom, thus reducing the likelihood of them resorting to eating spiders for entertainment.
Regular walks, playtime, and mental stimulation games can help keep your dog engaged and content.
Create a Safe Environment
Try to ensure your home environment is as spider-free as possible. In a nutshell, keep the area clean and tidy and vacuum regularly to get rid of spiders.
Keeping windows closed at night can also help prevent creatures from coming in.
Having toys available for your dog at all times is a great way to ensure they have something fun to play with instead of looking for spiders. Puzzle toys, chew toys, and interactive games can provide hours of entertainment for your pup.
Training your dog to leave spiders alone can also be beneficial. Commands like “leave it” or “drop it” can be particularly useful in preventing your dog from eating things they shouldn’t, including spiders.
Do Dogs Eat Spiders: Final Thoughts
Dogs eat spiders, but not always out of hunger. A dog’s interaction with a spider often stems from curiosity, playfulness, boredom, hunting instincts, or simply exploring their environment.
The good news is that consuming a common house spider usually won’t harm your furry friend. However, certain venomous species like the Black Widow or Brown Recluse can pose health risks if ingested.
In our expert opinion, while dogs and spiders can co-exist without issue, it’s best to discourage this behavior to avoid any potential harm.
Regular stimulation and exercise can keep your dog occupied, reducing their inclination to play with or eat spiders. Creating a safe, clean environment and providing various toys can help divert your dog’s attention. Training your dog to obey commands like “leave it” can be a lifesaver.
In essence, while dogs might find spiders entertaining, it’s crucial for owners to monitor this interaction, keeping their pet’s safety and well-being paramount. Consult with a vet if you notice any unusual behavior or symptoms after your dog has encountered a spider.