Every year, about 8000 people are bit by snakes. Unfortunately, dogs also become victim to snake bites (I know, its unfortunate for humans, but this is a dog blog!) The majority of these snake bites occur during the warm Summer months when snakes are most active. Many snake bites to dogs come from non-venomous snakes, which are pretty much harmless besides causing some discomfort. However, North America is home to about 4 types of venomous snakes. These venomous snakes are rattlers, moccasins, coral snakes. vipers also known as cottonmouths. Although the chances of these bites being fatal to larger dogs such as Labradors and Rottweilers are slim, smaller, toy breed dogs are a different story. The severity of the bite all depends on the size of your dog, where the bite has occurred on the body, and the deepness of the bite from the snake’s fangs.
If you suspect your dog has been bitten by a venomous snake, there some things that you should do that will help your dog survive such a horrible event.
1. If you are around when your dog has been bitten, try to identify the type of snake. I know we all aren’t the Crocodile Hunter when it comes to snakes but try to take notice if the snake has a rattler or not. If it does have a rattler, its obviously a rattlesnake. If not, try to look at the head. Coral snakes have smaller heads with red and yellow bands NEXT to each other. I emphasized this because king snakes look extremely close to coral snakes, but they are not venomous. King snakes have red and black bands next to each. I know its tough, but you can remember this rhyme “red next to yellow will harm a fellow, red next to black and you’re safe jack”. For the most part if the snake doesn’t have a rattler and the head is fairly large with a triangular shaped head, its most likely a cottonmouth or moccassin, both venomous snakes. Most venomous snakes have a triangular shaped head.
2. If you are not around when your dog has been bit, symptoms that your dog has been bit by a venomous snake include heavy panting, wobblyness, diarrhea, or lethargic behavior. If you suspect that your dog has been bitten by a snake, try to find the area where your dog has been bit.
3. Once you find the location of the snake bite, take a rag or cloth and wrap above the area where the snake bite occurred. You don’t want to wrap it super tight, but tight enough to slow the blood flow to prevent the venom from spreading quickly. DO NOT try to cut the are where your dog has been bitten and suck out the venom. From my research, it this technique doesn’t work and can only make the wound worse.
4. Next, try to keep your dog calm and get to a vet or animal hospital ASAP.
Remember, if you have a smaller breed dog, time is of the essence. Smaller dogs have a smaller chance of living through a venoumous snake bite, especially if the snake bite is severe. Its hard to say our little babies may fall victim to mother nature, but there are ways to prevent such a horrible occurrence from happening.
1. Always keep your dog on a leash if you are walking them on a trail. If you have Flexi type leash, keep the lead short so your dog is close to you at all times. Scan the area around you and in front of you. Keep your ears peeled for any sort of rattling noises. Remember, rattlesnakes are more scared of you than you are of them. The rattle is a sign from them saying “Keep Back!”
2. Stay on designated trails. Don’t wander off with your dog on some crazy trail that you thought would be adventurous to try out. Stay on the path and keep a lookout.
3. Don’t go hiking at night with your dog. Snakes are nocturnal creatures and they hunt at night.
4. Don’t let your dog sniff in holes, crevices, rocks, and logs. These are prime areas where snakes like to hang out during the day.
Hopefully, this Summer tip along with the others I have posted will ensure a fun and safe summer for both you and your dog!