Help! My Dog Has Been Bitten By A Snake!
Did you know that over 15000 dogs and cats are bitten by snakes each year? Considering that dogs, as well as cats enjoy playing with just about anything that moves, this fact should not come as a surprise! Non-poisonous snakebites can cause pain and infection, but venomous snakebites can be deadly! In fact, once a dog or cat has been bitten by a poisonous snake, they can be dead within an hour or two.
Dogs are bitten more than cats are…most likely because they often go for walks with their owners in wooded areas (cats aren't really known for long walks…or any walks for that matter). Dogs are also much more sensitive to snake venom than cats, and have the highest fatality rate (of any domestic animal) when it comes to snakebites. If you live in one of the following states, watch out! These states have the highest dog snakebite statistics. They include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Texas and South Carolina.
Have a dog? Keep a dog health care book available at all times!
In my opinion, it is handy to have a dog veterinary book at home. I use mine all the time!
For obvious reasons, most dogs are bitten on the face and neck. There are many different factors that determine the severity of the bite. These factors include how much venom the snake is able to inject into your pet, the size of the snake versus the size of the dog it has bitten, and the number of times the snake actually bites your pet. Ouch! The most common sign that your dog has been bitten is severe swelling. Often, because the swelling hides the fang marks, many people think their dog has actually been stung by a bee or spider.
If your dog is bitten by a pit viper or copperhead the area around the bite actually turns to a different color almost immediately. The venom from these snakes is very powerful and can also cause bleeding disorders (such as severe bruising and or bloody nose). If your dog is bitten by a pit viper or a copperhead, seek veterinarian assistance IMMEDIATELY! If you are not certain of the type of snake that has bitten your dog, again, drop EVERYTHING and rush your dog to the emergency veterinary hospital.
What To Do!
- Keep your dog as calm and still as possible! If possible, do not allow your dog to move at all! Movement will only circulate the poison through your dog's body at a faster rate.
- Take off your dog's collar! If your dog's neck swells, the collar will only hinder breathing.
- While transporting your pooch, turn up the air conditioner as high as it will go! Cold air will help to slow down your dog's circulation.
- Rinse the area of the snake bite. This will wash off any venom that remains on your dog's skin and or fur. Have a friend drive so you can do this while on your way to the emergency veterinary clinic.
- Place a cold pack on the area that was bitten. Ice will reduce the swelling and slow your pet's circulation. If your dog will not allow ice (due to pain) try a bag of frozen vegetables. Again, have a friend drive so you can tend to your dog. Apply the cold pack for ten to twenty minutes at a time.
- If possible, keep the bite below the level of the heart.
Most dogs that are bitten by poisonous snakes die within two hours. Those who are treated and survive beyond that point, usually recover but are not completely "out of the dark" for up to TEN DAYS after being bitten. Due to the high cost, most veterinary hospitals do not carry antivenin treatments. However, they will treat your dog with steroids, antibiotics and possibly a tetanus shot. You can also expect your dog to stay overnight at the hospital, so have your veterinary pet insurance card ready! Once released from the hospital you will probably be responsible for administering oral antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medication. These medications will need to be given until the area that was bitten is completely healed. Your veterinarian may also recommend applying a cold compress to the "tender area" and may also give your dog pain medication.
Snakebites are NO laughing matter! If possible, take precautions such as making your dog stay on the path instead of allowing him to run off into a wooded area. Also avoid high grasses, streams and creeks. Oh…one other important note, if you happen to come across a dead snake…BEWARE! Even dead snakes can bite and poison you and or your pet! How, you ask? Well, many poisonous snakes retain a reflexive action for up to an hour after death. This means that even though it is dead, if your dog (or you) touches it, it can still bite! Who knew!? So, play it safe, and avoid all snakes…dead or alive! Woof!
If you have a few minutes to spare, please visit some of my other dog related HUB Pages! Thanks!