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Snakebites in pets – how to handle them

Reported snakebites in pets  were up dramatically in Carolina – April 2017 versus April 2016, 71 to 19, according to a Fox News report. In Western North Carolina, the copperhead and timber rattlesnake cause concern. Bites from these snakes can vary greatly – from mild to life threatening.

The most common symptoms of snakebites in pets include swelling, pain, redness and often oozing from the site of the bite. Sloughing of large areas of tissue will develop in some pets. These symptoms can rapidly progress to more systemic illness, such as bleeding disorders and heart arrhythmias which are sometimes fatal. Symptoms can develop within minutes to hours, and may last days or weeks.

The most effective treatment for snakebite is antivenin, the primary treatment for humans, too. Although many patients do not need antivenin, determining beforehand which cases require it to avoid serious complications, or even death, can be difficult. It is no longer recommended to place tourniquets on limbs or attempt to lance and suck venom from a bite. These treatments can be more harmful than helpful.

If a venomous snake bites your pet, seek veterinary care immediately. Snakebites in pets by non-venomous snakes do not develop swelling or notable pain and do not require medical care unless they become infected, which is unusual.

Dr. Wetzel practices at REACH Veterinary Specialists on Brevard Road. He and the entire staff hope the above tips will help your pets stay safe this summer.

photo credit: A Train Muir Valley Copperhead via photopin (license)

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