For most people, the very sight of a snake is enough to make their skin crawl. The thought of being bitten by one is even worse. Fortunately, most of us will carry on through life without having to go through this excruciating experience, but did you know that it’s a pretty common occurrence for pets?
Snake bites, especially among dogs, are one of those seasonal problems that tend to happen more during the summer than other times of year. It makes sense, right? You’re out enjoying this beautiful weather, and your dog is loving it, too. Well, the snake tends to agree with you there. They love to be out and about during warmer seasons, so during this time of year, veterinarians see plenty of snake-bitten pets coming through the door.
Pets who have been bitten by a snake will quickly develop obvious swelling around the bite. For most pets, the bite will occur on the snout (…for sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong, Fido!). To give you an idea, below is a photo of a dog who has been bitten by a snake:
Some pets will develop far worse swelling than you see there, but hopefully, you will be able to have your furry friend treated before too much time has passed. Other signs include moderate to severe pain, lethargy, and sometimes vomiting. Even if you are unsure about whether or not your pet has been bitten, these are all symptoms that require the immediate attention of a veterinarian. Swelling of the face and neck, especially, should be treated right away in order to reduce the risk of airway obstruction.
Once you arrive at the veterinary hospital, your doctor will likely order a series of tests. Among them, you will hear of something called “clotting times”, because the venom of certain types of snakes can cause bleeding disorders. Other tests may include a CBC, chemistry panel, a urinalysis, blood pressure, and/or an EKG. Ask your pet’s doctor what all of these tests are checking for and how they work; he or she will be happy to explain.
Fortunately, most snake bites are treatable with just a day or two of hospitalization. The most common treatments include pain medications, intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and steroids, but your veterinarian will recommend the best course of action based on your pet’s test results.
As with most injuries and illnesses, the quicker your pet receives treatment, the better. So, if you suspect that your pet has had a run-in with a snake, do your best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian immediately.