Snake Season Has Begun — Do You Know What to Do?

Summertime means it’s snake season, and for dog owners, that means extra vigilance when it comes to allowing our playful pups to romp in fields and woodlands where snakes dwell.

Just last month, a six-month-old puppy named Guinness leapt between a rattlesnake and one of his foster humans and was bitten twice in the face. Thanks to the level-headed response of his owners, Guinness lived and was adopted by his foster parents.

Some snakebites can be dangerous or even fatal to dogs, and once your pup has been bitten, time is of the essence to save its life. Read on to learn more about snake bites and what you should do in the event of an emergency.

  • Venom: Not all snakes are venomous, but those that are can be fatal to a dog that doesn’t get the necessary treatment in time. A snake’s venom potency can be affected by everything from its size and age, to the time of year, location of the bite, and the amount of movement by the victim after the bite (as movement increases the venom’s spread).
  • Symptoms: Look for small puncture wounds and bleeding. The site of the bite will often swell rapidly and be extremely painful for the dog. Systemic signs associated with venom acts on different timetables, from minutes to hours. Symptoms include shock, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, muscle tremors, and neurological difficulties like trouble breathing.
  • Identify the snake: If you’re in the area when your dog is bit, try to get a good look at the snake. Knowing what species of snake bit your beloved friend might just save their life.
  • Get to the Vet: You MUST seek veterinary assistance as soon as you realize your dog has been bitten. Restrict their movement as much as possible and loosely immobilize the limb if they’ve been bitten on a paw or leg. Keep them as calm and comfortable as possible on the trip over.
  • Treatments: The vet will determine what the best course of treatment is for your dog. Antihistamines, IV fluids, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, and antivenin are some of the treatment options available to your vet.
  • Important Don’ts: Don’t cut the wound hoping it will drain the venom. Don’t attempt to suck out the venom. Don’t apply a tourniquet. Don’t apply ice to the area.
  • Follow up: Even if your dog isn’t showing any serious signs at the moment, it’s important to closely monitor them for adverse reactions for at least 12 hours. If there are clinical signs, the observation window goes up to 48 to 72 hours.

Did we miss anything in this article? Do you have experience with your dogs being bitten by snakes? Let us know in the comments!

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