Warmer weather tends to bring life back to those who have enjoyed a wintery sleep. Animals, insects, plants, people and pets enjoy the new sunshine and longer days with play time outdoors. But in the grass, there could be a hidden danger to both humans and pets…snakes. With proper education, owners will be equipped to handle a snakebite situation, should one ever occur.
In Western North Carolina there are two venomous snakes that we need to watch for. Being able to identify and tell the difference can be helpful in knowing how to react.
Copperhead - Heart-shaped head; thick, stout bodies; slit pupils; background color that varies from brown to orange (made to look like the forest floor); wide, irregular bands that tend to be darker than the background color.
Timber (Canebrake) Rattlesnake - A large, heavy-bodied, pinkish to blackish rattlesnake; dark, light-centered blotches and crossbands; belly is yellowish, pinkish, or cream with gray or black stippling; prominent rattle or enlarged "button" on the tip of the tail.
It is very important to try to remember any details about the snake if it has bitten a pet. Knowing which one better helps the veterinarian develop a treatment plan.
How Snake Venom Works
Factors that Affect Potency of Venom and Severity of Reaction
Pets, most commonly dogs, are bitten on either the legs or their nose. Bites to the legs may not swell initially. Some will start swelling after the breakdown of tissue. This delay in swelling can lead to severe leg swelling, infection and surrounding tissue death. Bites to the nose are of major concern due to swelling causing obstruction to breathing.
Sometimes as owners, we may not actually see the snakebite but may assume it has happened. Here is a list of what to look for:
Less obvious symptoms
If you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a snake, please call your veterinarian as soon as possible and prepare to transport your pet to the nearest hospital. There are some simple steps you can take to help decrease the spread of venom.
No one likes a "snake in the grass" but preparing yourself and knowing what to do in a snakebite situation can make a huge difference for your beloved four-legged friends!