Summertime and snakes go hand in hand, and if you’re a dog owner, it always pays to stay abreast of what you should and shouldn’t do if your pooch finds himself on the receiving end of a snakebite. Some ideas about first aid procedures for doggy snakebites have changed in recent years, so a brush up on how to handle snakebites can’t hurt.
DO Assume the Snake is Venomous
Err on the side of caution when it comes to snakebites. Assume the worst, and hope for the best. Act as if the snake is venomous until your vet evaluates your pet.
DO Seek Veterinary Help Immediately
Don’t waste any time getting your pet to the vet. It is important that your pet is seen immediately. If your regular vet is not in, seek out an emergency vet, pronto.
DO Muzzle the Dog
Unless your dog has been bitten on his face, muzzle him right away. This will prevent the dog from accidentally snapping at you while he is in pain.
DO Immobilize the Bitten Area
Immobilize the affected area. If possible, keep the bitten area at or just below the heart level to slow down the movement of toxins in the area.
DO Keep the Pet Calm
Try to keep your pet as calm as possible. If your pet senses you are stressed, it can only aggravate the situation, so keep yourself as calm as you can.
DO NOT Open the Wound or Suck Out the Venom
In previous years, advice was to open the wound and suck out the venom. This is no longer the recommendation. This can do more harm than good and exacerbates the wound, making it harder to heal.
DO NOT Apply Ice
Ice can constrict local blood vessels, causing the venom to become concentrated and leading to severe damage to the muscle.
DO NOT Apply Any Substances to the Area
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Attempting to rub substances into the snakebite will not help. The venom is already in the dog’s blood stream, and rubbing substances into the bite can only serve to aggravate the wound.
DO NOT Apply a Tourniquet
Restricting the flow of blood to the area with a tourniquet can cause serious damage to the dog’s tissue. Old school veterinary medicine suggested that a tourniquet was essential; new evidence suggests it makes things worse.
DO NOT Capture the Snake
This goes without saying, but attempting to capture a snake at any time is probably a horrible idea. This is doubly true of a snake that just bit your dog.
Stay prepared with these additional snakebite tips for dog owners.
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