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How do you treat snake bites in dogs?

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Quick Answer

Treatment for a dog bitten by a venomous snake varies based on the type of snake and the location of the bite. If the snake is not venomous, the wound is treated as any other puncture wound with antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and antihistamines as needed, advises VCA Animal Hospitals.

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Full Answer

If a dog is bitten by a venomous snake, the owner should not attempt first aid procedures such as tourniquets, cold packs or sucking out the venom, explains Merck Manuals. Instead, the owner should keep the dog as calm and still as possible and immediately take the dog to a veterinarian for treatment. If possible, the owner should also observe the snake's color and markings to help identify the species.

The only direct treatment for venomous snake bites is to administer antivenom, states Merck Manuals. This treatment is most effective if started within six hours of the bite, but is still effective if administered within the first 24 hours.

Additional care may be required to treat the symptoms associated with envenomation. Venom from pit vipers, including rattlesnakes and cottonmouths, can cause bleeding disorders, low blood pressure and shock, advises VCA Animal Hospitals. Venom from coral snakes has neurotoxins and damages the nervous system.

Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and antihistamines may be prescribed to prevent infection and reduce swelling. In some cases, corticosteroids may be used to prevent tissue damage and allergic reactions, suggests Merck Manuals. Other possible treatments that may be utilized depending on the dog's symptoms include IV fluids, anticonvulsants and ventilation support.

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