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Emergency First Aid For Dogs With A Snakebite

Aug 17, 2007
All animals are creatures of instinct and your dog is no exception. In spite of this some instincts have left dogs, creating situations where an owner needs to step in. With at least fifteen thousand years of domestication, many of the base instincts for survival have fallen by the wayside, making dogs more careless than their wild brethren and one such case is that of snake bites.

Knowing what to do in the event of a snake bite is especially important, as estimates show around 15,000 pets being bitten by snakes a year. A little research into the types of poisonous snakes in your area will help you immensely, since knowing the species of snake that bit your dog will be absolutely vital information for any treatment.

It will also save you the trouble of getting professional care for your dog if you can tell a poisonous snake from a non-poisonous one. If you're not familiar with the local serpents, try to notice what the snake looked like so you can relay the information to a veterinarian. Naturally, if the snake isn't poisonous, it's not a medical emergency.

Most of the time, a dog will startle a snake and the snake will lash back, usually sinking its fangs into a dog's face or legs. Afterwards, a poisonous bite will show swelling, pain, and redness, centered on a pair of tiny puncture wounds. Other possible signs of a poisonous snake bite are labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, an increased pulse, and shock. If you suspect your dog has been bitten by a venomous snake because of displaying these signs, look for the paired puncture wounds on your dog's flesh.

A poisoned dog should receive professional medical attention as soon as possible. Take special care not to excite the dog as you transport it. Keeping a bitten dog calm is of utmost importance, since a heightened pulse rate moves venom through the dog's body fast. You many also have to provide artificial respiration, particularly if your dog was bitten in the face. If your dog was bitten in a leg, placing that leg below the level of the heart, with the leg pointed towards the ground on a lower level than the dog's heart, will slow the movement of the venom into the dog's body.

Most home remedies for poisonings are ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. Incisions around the bite wound won't remove the venom, nor will ice pressed against the punctures or applying a tourniquet to slow the flow of venom in the dog's body. Most of these methods, along many others not listed here that occasionally crop up in urban myths, will cause more harm to your dog than the venom, partly because venom travels in a dog's lymph, not their blood.

Rather than leave the life of your dog in the hands of urban myths and folk medicine, you can try to slow the flow of venom through your dog's body by applying light pressure above the limb with either the flat of your hand or a loosely tied piece of cloth. True it might not be much, but every little bit helps when you are trying to buy some time.

Snake bites are both dangerous and common threats to man and animals. Dogs are particularly vulnerable, especially with their lack of certain instincts. As with any emergency, maintain a cool head - you can panic later after all is said and done. You need to think clearly and be well informed to help your dog.
About the Author
Jeff Clare runs Dog Training News where you can read many more articles on dog training schools . For more general advice on dog safety go to Dogs And Dog News.
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