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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Snake bites on pets: Recognizing, responding and recovering

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As the weather becomes warmer and nature begins to thrive, it is important to be aware of potential hazards that could impact our pets. One such danger to be mindful of during the spring and summer months is the presence of snakes. While most wildlife poses minimal risk to our pets, encounters with snakes, whether venomous or non-venomous, can pose significant threats to their health and safety.

As temperatures rise during the spring and summer months, snakes become more active as they seek out warmth and food. It is important to be aware that interactions between snakes and pets can potentially lead to bites, which, if left untreated, can have serious repercussions. Knowing how to identify, address, and treat snake bites in pets is essential to ensure their health and security.

Understanding Snake Bites

Snakes may bite in defense when they feel threatened, particularly if provoked or cornered by an inquisitive pet. The seriousness of a snake bite is influenced by several factors, such as the species of snake, the quantity of venom delivered, and the location of the bite on the pet’s body. Venomous snakes inject harmful substances that can result in symptoms ranging from minor discomfort to potentially life-threatening conditions.

A dog captures a snake with his mouth. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

Per information provided by the Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies in their publication “How To Treat Your Dog For Snake Bites,” it is noted that the symptoms’ severity may vary depending on the type of snake and the quantity of venom administered. Venomous snakes, like rattlesnakes, have the potential to inject a lethal dose of venom, whereas non-venomous snakes may result in pain and infection at the site of the bite.

Recognizing Symptoms

It is important to be able to recognize the signs of a snake bite on a pet in order to provide timely treatment. Symptoms may include sudden weakness, trembling muscles, vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, paralysis, and visible bite wounds. However, as outlined in “A Guide To Snake Bites On Dogs” by the Animal Emergency Service, some pets may experience collapse followed by a seemingly quick recovery, which can make identifying the bite challenging at first.

Immediate Response

In case of a suspected snake bite, it is imperative to take immediate action. As outlined in the guidelines provided by the Animal Emergency Service, it is crucial to seek veterinary care promptly. While transporting the pet to the clinic, there are steps that owners can take to reduce the impact of venom, including keeping the pet relaxed, applying a tight bandage above, below, and around the bite area (if identifiable), and ensuring the wound is lower than the heart to impede venom circulation.

A cat is poised to attack a snake in the garden. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

Veterinary Treatment

Upon arrival at the veterinary clinic, the pet will undergo a thorough assessment to evaluate the extent of the bite and determine the most suitable treatment plan. Treatment options may include administering antivenom, providing hospitalization for necessary care, and closely monitoring for any potential complications. The decision to administer antivenom will be made based on various factors including the species of snake involved, results of blood tests, and the overall clinical condition of the animal.

Prevention Measures

While encounters with snakes may occur, there are proactive measures that pet owners can implement to minimize the risk of snake bites. Maintaining cleanliness in backyard areas, eliminating potential hiding spots for snakes, and closely monitoring pets during outdoor activities can effectively reduce the likelihood of encounters. Furthermore, enrolling pets in rattlesnake aversion training and considering rattlesnake vaccination, as recommended in ‘How To Treat Your Dog For Snake Bites,’ can offer additional protection.

Snake bites on pets can pose a serious risk to their health and safety. It is crucial for pet owners to be aware of the signs of a snake bite, seek timely veterinary assistance, and take preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of such incidents. By acting swiftly and responsibly, pet owners can protect their animals from harm, especially during the summer months when snakes are more active.

In conclusion, maintaining awareness, readiness, and taking proactive measures can greatly reduce the risk of pets being harmed by snakes in their surroundings.

About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist, writer, and tutor. She has been a solo parent for 17 years now because she is the wife of Jonas Burgos, a Filipino desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.


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