Spring, winter and fall months mean snakes–and, in many areas, that means venomous snakes. Did you know that in the US about 90 percent of snakebites occur between April and October?
There are four types of venomous snakes found in the US–rattlesnake, copperhead, cottonmouth or water moccasin, and coral. Since we live in an area where all four are found, we’re always on the lookout for snakes on every walk. About 10 years ago, though, our dog Yoda was bitten by a coral snake. Part terrier, he was a dedicated snake and lizard hunter and, while in the front yard, found a coral snake before we did and was struck in the chest. Yoda received veterinary care, survived the bite, and went on to live many more years.
Today we’ve got some tips from the California Veterinary Medical Association, the largest state veterinary medical association in the United States, on how you can lessen the chances of your dog getting bitten…and improve your dog’s chance of survival should he be bitten by a snake.
- Avoiding snake habitat is the best way to prevent your dog from being bitten by a snake.
- Keeping a dog leashed and under control at all times during walks and hikes may prevent perilous encounters with venomous snakes.
If Your Dog is Bitten
- Should your dog get bitten by a snake, walk − do not run − away from it.
- Do not attempt to kill the snake, but make a note of what it looks like, if possible. Veterinarians know of their local population of venomous snakes, and identification is not always essential.
- Immediately make your way to the nearest veterinarian.
- Do not give your dog any over-the-counter medications, and avoid ice, hot/cold packs, sprays, incisions, suctioning, and tourniquets. The signs and symptoms that develop often will guide your veterinarian to the appropriate therapy.
It’s important to know the snakes in your area…and know which ones are venomous. In the US,rattlesnakes are found across the country, while coral snakes are found primarily in Arizona, Texas, and Florida. Copperheads and water moccasins are found in Eastern and Central U.S., and their bites are the most common due to their proclivity for living near humans, according to Dr. Karl Jandrey, assistant professor at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.