As warmer weather becomes consistent, snakes begin to emerge from their winter slumber. After a long winter’s nap, snakes are typically hungry and on the prowl. Although they do not typically view our beloved pets as a meal, they may view them as a threat, and thousands of pets are bitten by venomous snakes every year in the United States alone. Snake bites are a serious medical emergency and ALWAYS require veterinary attention. While knowing what species of snake bit your pet can be helpful to your veterinarian, remember that identifying the snake will be less useful if you are bitten in the process. Immediately transport your pet to the nearest veterinary clinic. If possible call ahead to let the clinic know that you are on your way so that they are able to better assist your pet when you arrive. NEVER apply ice to a bite, cut open the wound, or attempt to suck the venom out of the wound. Bites most commonly occur on the face and legs of animals; do NOT apply a tourniquet without the direct supervision and recommendation of your veterinarian. Treatment for snake bites may include anti-venom (only within the first 24 hours), intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and close monitoring.
It is always a good idea to keep your pet on a leash when traveling through areas that are prone to having increased wildlife, including snakes. For pets that are at an increased risk of encountering rattlesnakes, vaccinations are available at select veterinary clinics.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information on venomous snake bites or visit: http://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_dg_snake_bites_and_dogs
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff