Hello my dedicated readers,
It’s hot and humid in the south and I feel a nap coming on. But before I take a snooze, I need to pass on this sssssuper important information about snake bites and your fur baby. Ssssnakes play an important role in our ecosyssssstem. They keep the rodent population in check and they’re an important prey species to other predators. No mice in your yard? Thank a snake. To protect themselves from predators (or nosey cats and dogs innocently poking around in their habitat) many snake species produce venom that they may inject into said predator (innocent or not!). An estimated 150,000 dogs and cats are bitten by pit vipers in the U.S. each year and boy those bites can hurt!
In the past month, the doctors who manage my hospital have attended to two dogs who were bitten by snakes. Being the brilliant and stunningly beautiful cat that I am, I thought this would be a good time to share some snake-related information from “Venomous snakes poisonous to pets: Part 2, Oct 22, 2012”, by Jessica Driscoll, CVT, Daniel Keyler, PharmD, FAACT, Pet Poison Helpline staff.
Who is slithering around here?
When it comes to venomous snakes, there are two families represented by several different genera and species throughout most of North America. These include the Elapidae family (coral snakes) and the Viperidae family (rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins). These snakes are found throughout the United States, but are most represented in the southeastern and southwestern regions of North America. Venom toxicity varies between species. Rattlesnakes are generally considered to have more potently toxic venom, followed by cottonmouths (water moccasins), then copperheads. However, copperhead bites frequently result in considerable morbidity due to extensive swelling and local venom effects. Copperheads account for the majority of venomous snakebites and they are often found in areas of human habitation.
What do I do if my pet gets bitten by a snake?
If the snake is available (or a photo of snake, cell phone photo), accurate identification is useful to determine if the snake species is venomous or nonvenomous. However, snakes have bitten pet owners, and it’s best not to take actions that will increase the time for transport of the pet to veterinary medical care facility. It’s best to avoid performing any first aid at home. Immediate transportation to the clinic is most effective. Note: Remove collars or other restrictive devices, prior to transport. Try to keep the animal calm with comforting reassurance and minimize movement.
So, if you suspect that your cat or dog has been bitten by a snake, give my humans a call immediately. If the snake bite happens after hours, call the Animal Emergency line at University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (865) 974-8387.
The outdoors are an amazing place to play, but be cautious of hazards and take quick action if you suspect a snake bite. Happy trails and backyard sniffing!
Kitty kisses and snuggles, Bella