This time of year it’s increasingly common to have an encounter with a snake. Whether they’re swimming through the lake directly towards you and your pet, or you encounter one while out for a walk together, the fact is you have to be on your guard. Many pets are downright intrigued when it comes to a slithering serpent, while others may get struck in a surprise attack. Water moccasins, or cottonmouths, have a reputation for being rather aggressive, so it’s best to have a proactive approach to pet safety around snakes.
A Lay of the Land
There are many – venomous and non-venomous – water snakes. While you may teach and train your pet to leave all snakes alone, we recommend at least a fundamental, working knowledge of what a water moccasin looks like:
- Heavy-looking or thick body shape
- Tan to brown coloring with darker cross bands
- Rough-looking scales
- Thick or blocky head shape
- A visibly narrow-looking neck
- Dark eye stripe or facial band
- Vertical pupil
- Heat-detecting facial pits between the eye and nostril
These snakes will not retreat before attacking a perceived threat, increasing the need for pet safety around snakes.
Avoidance Is Key
Most pet owners are highly tuned into possible dangers facing their pets while out and about. Taking it an extra step further, we offer the following helpful measures for pet safety around snakes:
- Keep your pet’s off-leash time to a minimum
- Discourage exploration near tall grasses, overgrown areas, or thick underbrush
- Do not play catch the stick with your dog in bodies of water known for cottonmouths (they may inadvertently get ahold of one in the mouth, but rattlesnakes and copperheads can swim, too!)
- Do not pick up or turn over large stones
- Do not reach into crevices or holes
You’ll Know When It Happens
Pet safety around snakes must also include knowing the signs of a snake bite, and what to do to help your pet. Water moccasins are venomous and can cause:
- Extreme pain at the bite site
- Redness and swelling
- Nausea and vomiting
- Breathing difficulty
- Blurry vision or vision loss
- Numbness in the face and limbs
- Increased salivation
Inspect the bites marks closely if if your pet allows you to. Attempt to wash the wound with clean, soapy water and then wrap the area in sterile dressing. Seek emergency care immediately and on the way be sure to:
- Remove the collar from the neck if there’s swelling
- Keep the bite mark below your pet’s heart level
- Calm your pet as much as possible, taking care to keep them as stationary as possible
Pet Safety Around Snakes
Pet safety around snakes is so critical because of the terrible consequences of a venomous bite. Low blood pressure, kidney damage, and blood clotting disorders are among them.
Once your pet is examined, we’ll test their blood. Pain medication, antihistamines, IV fluids, and more may be necessary. Sometimes, effects of snake bites aren’t exactly clear until later, increasing the importance of monitoring and repeated lab work.
If you need our assistance with pet safety around snakes, please let us know at Carriage Hills Animal Hospital. Stay safe out there!