Do you know much about your dog’s risk of getting a snake bite? We generally think of poisonous snakes in the jungles of Africa or South America, but poisonous are common in North America, especially in the southeast and southwest United States. Although the northeast has less poisonous snakes to deal with in the area they are still here and a concern for pet owners. Coral snakes have short fangs and tend to “chew” venom into the wound. Vipers have longer fangs that they use to inject venom deeply into the underlying tissues. In general, poisonous snakes can be identified by their pointy, triangular- or arrow-shaped head.
Dogs are especially at risk of snake bites because of their curious nature and because of the relatively small size of some breeds compared with the amount of venom injected. In fact, fatal snake bites are more common in dogs than in any other domestic animal.
Timely diagnosis is usually based on an owner having witnessed the bite. A snake bite is a true emergency that requires immediate treatment by a veterinarian. The first 2 hours are key, with most deaths occurring during this time. Animals need to be hospitalized for supportive care, antibiotics, and possible treatment with antivenin, an antidote for the snake venom. Pets that are doing well after 24 hours usually survive, so long as secondary infection can be effectively controlled. However, even with long-term antibiotic therapy, widespread tissue damage and scarring can remain at the site of infection. Tissue damage can sometimes be so severe as to claim an entire leg.
What should I do if I see my pet bitten by a snake? A snake bite is a true emergency, so take your pet immediately to your veterinarian or a veterinary emergency center. Emergency treatment involves supportive therapy for shock and administration of antivenin.
What is the prognosis after a snake bite? Treatment within the first 2 hours is an important part of successful therapy, and dogs that do well after 24 hours usually survive. However, long-term therapy with antibiotics is often needed to prevent life-threatening secondary infection. Snake bites are often slow to heal and produce scarring.
Please be aware of aware of what your pets are doing especially when outdoors! Please feel free to contact us here at Falls Road Veterinary Hospital with any questions or concerns. (301) 874-8880. http://www.fallsroadvet.com