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In this lesson, we'll be discussing cat and dog snake bites. We'll get into the four types of venomous snakes present in the U.S. and the four general toxins that those snakes' venoms contain, each coming with different sets of symptoms. At the end of the lesson, we'll share with you a link to a heartwarming story of one brave German shepherd who saved a child from a snake.

There are four types of venomous snakes living in the United States. These include:

  • Rattlesnakes
  • Copperheads
  • Cottonmouths
  • Coral snakes

Pro Tip #1: It's important to know what venomous snakes live in your area, so that you can be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms that are caused by a bite from that/those particular venomous snakes.

If you witness your pet being bitten by a snake or interacting with a snake, there's really little you can do in the way of providing first aid to your pet. However, what you can do that is equally important, if not more so, is to get a photo of the snake in question.

Warning: You don't need to get close to a snake to take its picture, and you can skip with the pleasantries and requests to say cheese! Seriously, though, don't get so close that you might get bitten yourself.

In case it wasn't obvious, each venomous snake comes with its own antivenom. Which means knowing what type of snake bit your pet could save some time trying to figure it out blindly.

Snake Bite Myths to Ignore

This point really deserves its own heading, as there are more myths around treating snake bites than there are venomous snakes in the U.S. Here are a few common myths.

  1. Apply a tourniquet.
  2. Apply ice.
  3. Make an incision and suck out the venom.

While some of these may work in the movies, none of them are advisable or recommended, and this includes in people or pets who have been bitten by a poisonous snake.

Instead, the most important things you can do involve identifying the snake and transporting your pet to the veterinarian as quickly as you can. And if you cannot identify the snake, your vet may be able to help with that based on your pet's symptoms and the location of the country you're located in.

Warning: Even if your pet isn't showing any signs of a snake bite, after coming into contact with a snake, it's still important to get him or her to your vet. In many cases, it's very difficult, or even impossible, to identify the signs of a snake bite.

Signs and Symptoms of a Venomous Snake Bite

Obviously, not all snake bites will be witnessed. In these cases, it is important to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of a venomous snake bite, particularly for those venomous snakes in your area.

In general, there are four toxins contained within a snake's venom. And some snakes may have more than one type of toxin in their venom. These four toxins include:

  1. Neurotoxins. Signs of neurotoxins include weakness progressing to paralysis.
  2. Cardiotoxins. Signs of cardiotoxins include an abnormal heart rhythm and even a stoppage in heart function.
  3. Cytotoxins. Cytotoxins can cause local tissue damage, and the signs can be seen as swelling or bruising of the affected bite area.
  4. Hemotoxins. Hemotoxins can cause red blood cell destruction or lead to anemia or blood clotting disorder, and the signs can be seen as bleeding from the site of the bite.

Pro Tip #2: It's always important to watch your pet's behaviors and monitor his or her vital signs if you suspect a snake bite. If you spot any abnormalities, seek veterinary care immediately, even if you do not suspect a snake bite, which, by now, is a message you're used to hearing.

Treatment for Cat and Dog Snake Bites

Pets that are bitten by a venomous snake may require antivenom, fluid therapy, pain medications, or even a blood transfusion. And in some cases, multiple vials of antivenom will be needed, while in others, no antivenom will be necessary.

It's worth mentioning one more time – the signs of a venomous snake bite may not be obvious. But if you know that your pet has been around a venomous snake, it's important to have him or her monitored by a veterinary team as soon as possible, and generally for a day or two.

A Heart-Warming Story: Dog Saves Child from Snake

What do you get when you combine a Diamondback Rattlesnake (maybe the most dangerous snake in North America), a seven-year-old girl, and a courageous German Shepherd?

You get a short story worth reading: German Shepherd Dog saves Child from Snake.