Emergency vets come to the rescue of stricken staycation lab

It’s every dog owner’s nightmare – you’re 200 miles from home and suddenly your puppy’s face swells up without warning or explanation. 

As the minutes tick by, the swelling gets worse, so much so that she’s virtually unrecognisable and one of her eyes is forced shut. 

That’s the distressing scenario Lisa and Nick Bennett suffered with Bonnie, their beloved 15-month-old black lab. 

Worried that Bonnie’s throat and windpipe might swell as well – potentially putting her breathing at risk – they searched online for emergency vet help. 

After a quick phone call, they were on their way to our pet emergency clinic in Gateshead, with an increasingly distressed Bonnie, who had also suffered vomiting and diarrhoea. 

Recognising the seriousness of the situation, vet Konrad and our team hooked Bonnie up to a drip. 

They ran some tests and concluded that she had been bitten by a spider – which, it turned out, had happened five days previously – before administering an injection to counteract the effects of the bite. 

Then they kept Bonnie under observation and waited for the swelling to subside. 

A little while later, Bonnie, already feeling much better, was well enough to be reunited with a relieved Lisa and Nick. 

close-up of Bonnie the labrador
15-month-old Bonnie's face began swelling rapidly, five days after sustaining a spider bite.

The couple, who live near Redditch in Worcestershire, were in Newcastle visiting family. 

Lisa said: “It was a terrible shock to see her face swell up and it happened so quickly. 

“Being so far from home made it even worse – you just feel so vulnerable when your pet is in distress. 

“Bonnie is a very intelligent dog and she was clearly aware that something was wrong. 

“She kept trying to use her paw to wipe and scratch away the swelling, which made it more upsetting to see. 

“We assumed it was a reaction to something she’d eaten or possibly a snake bite, but it never occurred to us she’d been bitten by a spider. 

“Konrad and the team at Vets Now said it can be several days before a spider bite starts affecting a dog – and that’s when we realised. 

“Five days before all this drama happened, we’d been walking Bonnie and our other black lab Benson near our house when she gave a yelp and came limping back to us. 

“We checked her over, couldn’t see anything untoward and just assumed she’d maybe stood on a thorn. 

“Then she went off again and seemed totally fine. 

“But what we know now is that the yelp was almost certainly a sign she’d been bitten.” 

Labradors Bonnie and Benson with their owners in the hills
The incident occurred while Bonnie's owners were visiting family in Newcastle.

Senior vet nurse Ashley Wemple said it’s very rare for pets to be bitten by spiders.  

She added: “This is not the type of case we see every day. But if your dog gets bitten by an insect or even a snake, it can be difficult to see any evidence because the bite is often covered by their fur. 

“Symptoms can include swelling, itchiness and irritation of the skin and, in severe cases, an allergic reaction. 

“It can take hours – or, as in Bonnie’s case, days – for this to happen. 

“But if there is a bad reaction or swelling then time really is of the essence, and you should seek help straight away. 

“Nick and Lisa did the right thing calling us when they did – if they had delayed, the consequences could have been very serious. 

“Bonnie was such a friendly and good-natured dog. We were all delighted to see her go back to Lisa and Nick after treatment with her tail wagging.” 

Bonnie’s swelling disappeared completely after three days and she’s made a full recovery. 

Lisa said: “The service we got was brilliant from the moment we rang – and Konrad and his colleagues were so incredibly kind and patient, not just with Bonnie but with us as well. We’re really grateful to them for looking after her, and us, so well.” 

Bonnnie the labrador in a field
Symptoms of spider bites in dogs can include swelling, itchiness and irritation of the skin and, in severe cases, an allergic reaction.