As the temperatures warm up and your pets spend more time outdoors, their chances of getting bitten by a snake increase. It's important to remember that not all snakes are venomous. In Western North Carolina, the two poisonous snake species that are pets are most likely to encounter are rattlesnakes and copperheads.
Snakes usually bite in self-defense, so your pet is most likely to get bitten on the muzzle or limb. You may be able to see two puncture wounds, but sometimes they can be hard to detect.
How Do You Know If Your Pet Has Been Bitten by a Venomous Snake?
You will most likely know your pet was bitten by a venomous snake, because the area where they were bitten will be very swollen and painful. Sometimes pets can become lethargic or vomit but these symptoms do not always occur.
What to Do If Your Pet Has Been Bitten
If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake, contact your veterinarian immediately. Treatment for a copperhead or rattlesnake bite is essentially the same so it’s not absolutely critical that the snake is identified but can be helpful. Keep your pet calm and comfortable making sure to avoid placing any kind of tourniquet or compression bandage on the wound.
Is There a Vaccine to Help Protect Against Snake Bites?
Yes! We carry a rattlesnake vaccine that helps protect dogs when they are bitten by the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, and it has some cross protection against copperheads. The vaccine delays the onset of symptoms and allows you more time to get your pet to the vet. Your pet may still need anti-venom, but the vaccine does afford you more time to get your pet to a hospital.
Can Dogs Get Poison Ivy?
This is a question we get asked all the time! Dogs can get poison ivy, but they aren't nearly as prone to it as us humans, mainly because their thick fur protects them. However, when your pet does get in contact with poison ivy, the urushiol oils that are on your dog’s coat can be transmitted to other things, including us. To help avoid transmission, you can rub your dog down with a towel (while you wear gloves!), or give them a bath anytime they come back from a romp in the woods.