While out and about on my route this morning I came across a large turtle crossing the road and it brought to mind the cooler weather that will soon be upon us and the many animals that will soon be scurrying to find a place for the winter. Snakes are still pretty active this time of year while the weather is still warm but they too, will soon be seeking a spot for the winter.
Your Nosey Dog
Your dog being the curious individual that he is, is not immune to a snakebite. If you’re out and about with your dog and you should hear your dog yelp in pain and surprise while investigating the ground and rocks and leaves, you should be sure to investigate and make sure that he is okay because he may have been bitten by a snake. In most cases, you will visibly be able to see puncture wounds with dark bloody fluid leaking out. Additionally, your dog will be in pain and possibly shock. This is not the time to delay! You need to get him to the nearest veterinarian or animal emergency room as quickly as you can. If you see the snake make sure you make a mental note of the markings and what the snake looks like and be sure to tell the veterinarian that you suspect your dog has been bitten.
Know Your Snakes
You should familiarize yourself with the types of snakes that are indigenous to the area that you live in or frequent. If you hike with your dog, make sure to keep your dog on a leash and make sure he does not put his nose into places where you can’t see what might be hidden. Snakes are frightening creatures, but we have to keep in mind that we are the ones that are nosing around in their environments. Knowing what to do is the most important thing.
The Do Not’s
You should never ever put yourself at risk. It is important to try and identify the type of snake that you suspect of biting your dog but certainly not if it puts you at risk. (If you get bitten who will tend to your dog?)
Never place a tourniquet on a limb. Many years ago the thought process was to try and seal off the area in an attempt to try to prevent the spread of the venom. Now it’s thought that if a tourniquet is applied, the pressure may cause tissue damage in addition to increasing the pain and slowing healing. It is, however, a good idea to keep your dog as quiet as possible (to slow the venom) on the way to the veterinarian.
Never ever try to suck or squeeze out the venom! This is another fallacy and an old-school recommendation that has definitely outlived its usefulness. Remember that you are not a veterinarian and by cutting and sucking or squeezing the wound you would only damage tissue even more and most certainly frighten your dog!
My Final Thoughts
Never, ever try to manage a snakebite wound without veterinary help. The powerful toxins that snakes deliver with a bite have evolved over many generations and they make powerful, lethal killers. Although many snakes have many different mechanisms to defend themselves, venom is designed to kill. The chance is that your dog may not get a lethal dose of the toxin that is injected from a snakebite, but it will be painful and limb-threatening (swelling and snake toxin may lead to tissue death and ultimately amputation). This is definitely not the time to watch and wait to see if your dog improves! Veterinary care is the utmost importance and can make the difference between your dog surviving the snake bite or succumbing to it.
I would love to hear your comments, feedback stories and ideas.
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