Snake Bites in Dogs and Cats

Snake Bites in Dogs and Cats

So you come home from work to find your dog’s face is swollen twice it’s size and he’s been in your back yard all afternoon. Bad news..,. It means you’ve got a snake in your yard. More bad news… your dog found it and got bit. Snake bites in dogs and cats in East Texas are very common. Fortunately, most of the time they are also very treatable.

Clients whose pets have been snake bitten usually ask me what kind of snake it was. While it’s impossible to know for sure, most of our snake bites that cause us problems are from copperheads which are so common in East Texas.

Snake bites usually occur on the face in dogs because they literally stick their nose down to the snake to smell it and get bit on the muzzle. Snake bites in cats are far less common and often can be on a limb rather than the face. (Cats are faster). Swelling begins almost immediately as the venom causes huge inflammation of the soft tissue, drawing in fluid. Often two small bite marks can be seen on the muzzle that may ooze serum. These bites can be rather painful especially at first. Soon the entire muzzle may be swollen. Then the fluid starts to gravitate downward, causing the chin area to swell.

As bad as this sounds, snake bites are not usually fatal in East Texas if treated with reasonable promptness. At our hospital, treatment consists of IV steroids to minimize tissue damage and antibiotics to prevent infection and subsequent abscess. Anti-venom is not typically used here in East Texas. Deaths from snake bites in this locale usually occur because of the really “hot” bacteria that snakes carry in their mouths. Serious infection can occur because the venom caused so much tissue damage from the swelling. So it is usually the resulting septicemia and infection that causes death rather than the immediate reaction to venom.

So don’t panic if you find your pet has been bitten by a snake. But don’t ignore it either. Call us at the Rannals Small Animal Hospital in Whitehouse, Tx at 903-839-7235 to set up an appointment to take care of it.