Do you know what to do if your pet is bitten by a snake? Snake bite is a common emergency seen at Guthrie Pet Hospital. Dr. Anna Coffin discusses what to do if your pet is bitten by a snake.
There are more breeds of non-venomous snakes in the United States then there are venomous snakes. Dr. Anna Coffin recommends researching what venomous snakes are located in your area and be able to identify them. You don’t need to treat a snake bite from a non-venomous snake.
All snakes, even non- venomous snakes, will bite if they feel threatened. Dr. Anna Coffin recommends not killing non-venomous snakes because some of them kill and eat venomous snakes. They also help eliminate rodents that can spread Leptosporosis to you and your pet. [Tweet “Don’t kill non-venomous snakes because some of them kill and eat venomous snakes and rodents.”]
Five steps for pet snake bite:
- Stay calm!
- Identify the snake. This step is one of the most important because each venom does different types of damage. It is also needed if your pet needs anti-venom treatment.
- Inspect your pet. Fifty percent of all venomous snake bites are dry bites. A dry bite means no venom was injected. If you pet were envenomed, you would see significant tissue swelling almost immediately.
- Medicate. Skip this step if your pet is having difficulty breathing or has collapsed and go to your veterinarian or the nearest pet emergency clinic. Give your pet 1mg/pound of body weight of Benadryl or the generic equivalent. Example: A 25-pound dog would get 25mg of Benadryl, which is one adult tablet. If you have some pain medication from your veterinarian, give as directed to your dog. Do not give Aspirin, as this can worsen the effects of some venom. Dr. Anna Coffin does not recommend giving any pain medication to cats without your veterinarian’s approval because cats are unable to process many of these medications.
- Take your pet to the vet! The most common symptom of snake bite in pets is localized tissue swelling. Your veterinarian will most likely treat with the same medication as listed above, but use an injectable form which will act much faster. If you medicated your pet prior to arriving, make sure to tell your vet. If your pet is exhibiting live threatening symptoms, anti-venom is the next course of action. Not all veterinarians have anti-venom because it is expensive and has a short expiration date. If you have venomous snakes in your area, talk with your veterinarian about the closest place to receive this treatment.
A snake vaccine is available for dogs. This vaccine works by neutralizing the snake venom and decreasing your dog’s symptoms. Your dog will initially need a series of two vaccines spaced one month apart before it is considered protected. The vaccine provides good protection for six months. Dr. Anna Coffin recommends giving the vaccine in the spring, and your dog will be protected through snake season in most areas of the United States. Guthrie Pet Hospital can give your pet the snake vaccine. Call for an appointment today.