It’s every pet owner’s nightmare: your inquisitive dog comes face to face with a snake and gets bitten. So many thoughts race through your mind. Is the snake poisonous? How do I help my dog? How much time do I have to get to the vet?
Snakes are more visible in Florida this time of year as the warm weather draws them out to soak up the sun. Felicia Nasello of Noah’s Mobile Veterinary Clinic shares these important facts about what to do and what NOT to do when your dog has been bitten by a snake.
If you suspect a snake bite, your fast response with first aid could be what saves your dog’s life. Snake bites are and should be treated as extreme emergencies, regardless of whether you think the snake is poisonous. Here are some key steps that you can take while preparing to transport your dog to the nearest vet.
◾The most important thing is to stay calm. You want to keep your dog as still as possible, since movement will spread the venom faster.If you get upset and excited, your dog will too. So try to take a deep breath and collect yourself
◾Check for the following: puncture wounds, bleeding, skin discoloration, bruising, swelling, or any extreme pain at the site of suspected bite. Dogs are usually bitten on the head or neck, but can be struck in other places like a paw. If this should happen, stabilize the limb loosely in a natural position by securing it with a make shift splint like a stick. Wrap it loosely to preserve circulation.If it’s not a poisonous snake or venom wasn’t injected, the pain, swelling or bruising around the bite could be minimal, fortunately.
◾Try to identify the snake by taking a picture, if possible, or write down the features you see like colors. Remember, not all snakes are venomous,as you may recall from the popular rhyme that helps to distinguish the venomous coral snake from its non-poisonous look-alike, the king snake: “Red on yellow, kill a fellow. Red on black, venom lack.”
◾Get your dog to veterinarian ASAP! The sooner you can get there, the better the prognosis for your pet. Contact them on the way to explain the emergency, so they can prepare for your arrival.
Just as important is What NOT To DO when your dog is bitten by a snake.
◾Never tie a tourniquet.
◾Never try to “suck the venom” out.
◾Do NOT apply ice.
Roughly 15,000 snake bites are reported by dog and cat owners every year in the US. Florida is home to 50 different types of snakes with only about 6 of those being poisonous. Being informed and prepared