Just Ducky's JustaRecluse

Rec and his 'encounter' with a brown recluse spider

By Pam Kadlec



Brown Recluse Spider

Just Ducky's JustaRecluse at 11 weeks

On April 9, 2002 a puppy yelped in pain. The puppy screamed and wouldn't stop. I ran to the kennel to see what the problem was. One of Nike's 4-week old babies was lying on his side. I picked up the pup and felt his leg to see if I could find the problem. I thought maybe he had twisted his leg or maybe mamma had inadvertently stepped on him. Since the pup only cried when I pulled his front leg and I couldn't find any sign of a problem I took him to my vet. The pup was probed and prodded, temperature was normal, examined all over yet we still couldn't find the cause of the pain. Doc thought maybe it was an insect bite but there wasn't any swelling. He gave the pup a shot of long-acting penicillin, a little bit of an anabolic steroid and sent us home.

That was about 10:00 in the morning. By 1:00 in the afternoon the leg was swollen. I called the vet and he okayed an injection of Benadryl. The swelling went down and the pup was acting normal.

The next day, the pup was limping on the leg but otherwise acting normally and eating his food with his littermates. The next day I left for the Boykin Spaniel Nationals. Before I left I checked on the pup and he was unchanged - limping but eating and acting normal.

I contacted my kennel help Friday morning and the pup was fine. Friday evening I got my messages and learned that the pup had taken a turn for the worse. The pup was found lying on his side, the leg and the puppy's entire side was swollen over twice its normal size. When the pup's temperature spiked to 105.3 he stayed at the veterinarian's office (Dr. Clarence Bagshaw) and was put on IV fluids, more antibiotics and some anabolic steroids.

First thing Monday morning I was at Dr. Bagshaw's door to take the baby home. I went home with a full bottle of Clindamycin antibiotic and some DMSO gel to rub on the bite area that was still swollen. I read about brown recluse spiders on the internet and added cold compresses on the leg three times a day.

Four weeks later, Rec (I named him after the spider that bit him) was still limping and not putting any weight on the leg except to balance when standing still. He could climb up stairs but not down. He had feeling in his toes. I took him back to Dr. Bagshaw to take x-rays of the leg. The x-rays were very disturbing. They showed severe deterioration of the elbow - the bone was actually eaten away by the venom. Dr. Bagshaw called the University of Georgia vet school for a consultation appointment the following week.

More x-rays were taken and the diagnosis was that there was an infection in the joint. Prognosis is that if Rec uses the leg that the bone would grow with the pup. If he didn't use the leg he would lose it. If he keeps the leg then at about nine months (when he reaches his full height) the elbow will be fused. He will lose mobility of the elbow but will keep the leg and can continue to swim and and fetch. Without the fusion Rec will be in constant pain.

We were sent home with Cephalexin antibiotic to be given 4 times a day and an anti-inflammatory to be given once a day. Rec was to have warm water cloths on the leg area 3 times a day and swimming in warm water at least twice a day.

It's been almost a month since our visit to the vet school. He is now swimming in the pond for one ten-minute session every day and loves to fetch. There is some muscle growth in the upper arm and shoulder that wasn't there before and the doctor was impressed with Rec's progress. There is now a 50/50 chance that surgery will be needed.

Rec has found a wondeful home in Raleigh, NC with a family, including a 5 year old boy. Rec will get to swim every day and may even be seen at HRC events in the future.
Thanks to all who wrote and expressed their concern for this pup.

Pam Kadlec
Just Ducky Kennel
803) 627-2007