Beware of Copperhead Snakes!

Copperhead Snakes are on the move here in Texas so watch where you and your Brittanys step. We are seeing copperheads in established neighborhoods as well as in the country. Keep grass cut and your yard picked up so the snakes have fewer places to hide.

Snake bites should be treated by veterinarians.

A snake bite is a serious injury, regardless of whether the offending snake is venomous or not. However, YOU are your Brittany’s first responder when a snake bite occurs. Your success in providing your Brittany with first aid before he is transported to the veterinarian’s office may well save his life.

Symptoms

Symptoms of snakebites include acute pain, swelling and bleeding at the site of the bite. Most snakebites in dogs occur on the face and paws. Snakebites may result in tissue necrosis, blood disorders and death.

Treatment

Treatment involves stabilization with intravenous fluids, anti-venom and antibiotics. Treatment may also include steroids and antihistamines. Most pets do well after being bit, but there are many variables including type of snake, location of bite and amount of venom received.

There is a vaccine available whose purpose is to decrease the severity of symptoms when rattlesnakes bite dogs. The vaccine is initially given twice, then annually. It will not prevent your Brittany from being bit, but may decrease the severity of symptoms.

Examine your Brittany for signs of the bite.

Most dogs are bitten on the head or neck, possibly because they attempt to sniff the snake. However, a dog also can be bitten on the paws, legs or body. The bite typically will show two small puncture wounds where the fangs entered your dog’s flesh. The area surrounding the fang wounds might be tender and swollen. It also may be discolored.

Keep your Brittany as inactive or immobile as possible.

If your pet is small, pick him up and carry him. If he was bitten in an extremity, secure it using a splint — even just a stick — loosely and in a natural position.

Identify the snake.

Take a photograph, if possible. If you cannot photograph the snake or guess what type of snake bit your dog, make note of any identifying features that you can see. In the event that you did not see the snake, tell your veterinarian where you were hiking and in what environment your dog was bitten.

Transport your Brittany to the veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Because of the number of variables associated with your dog succumbing to a bite, including whether the snake has bitten recently, the time of year, bite location, species of snake and the health of your dog, it is best to treat all snake bites as extreme emergencies and to seek immediate treatment.