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What to Do If a Snake Bites Your Dog

May 1, 2015

There are many things to love about living in Texas. We have a great culture, beautiful rolling scenery, and a nice warm climate. Just as with anything else, however, we have to take the bad with the good. One of the downsides of life in the Lone Star State is that we have our fair share of snakes. Fortunately, most of our snake population is non-venomous, but we do have several poisonous varieties, including Copperheads, Cottonmouths, Harlequin Coral Snakes, and several rattlesnakes. While snakes do generally keep to themselves, they will strike if they feel threatened. This can be very dangerous for dogs, as curious pups and wary snakes do not make a good combination! In this article, your local San Antonio veterinarian offers some tips on what to do if your dog is ever bitten by a snake.

Symptoms

The first thing to check for is puncture wounds. Usually you will see two, with some bleeding, bruising and swelling nearby. With non-venomous snakes, this may be the extent of the damage. Extreme swelling and tissue necrosis are symptomatic of venomous snakebites. As the poison spreads, Fido may vomit, become lethargic, show tremors, and have difficulty breathing.

What To Do

If you aren’t sure whether the snake is poisonous, try to identify it. Take a picture if you can, but don’t put yourself at risk! Restrict your dog’s movement to slow the spread of the venom. If Fido was bitten on one of his legs, immobilize that leg. Do not incise the wound or apply a tourniquet. Ice is also a no-no. Instead, immediately take your canine pal to the nearest emergency animal hospital. Call ahead so the staff can prepare for your arrival. Luckily, with immediate care, Fido’s chances are good!

Prevention

As with anything animal-related, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep your property free of debris piles, as dead branches and overgrown brush can make inviting habitats for snakes. When hiking with your dog, keep a close eye on him. Making sure Fido knows the commands to Stay and Come are crucial, and can actually save your pup’s life, as they allow you to keep your pooch safely away from snakes and potential snake hideouts.

Do you have any questions about your dog’s care or behavior? Contact us, your San Antonio veterinary clinic, anytime!

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