Up to 150,000 dogs and cats are bitten by snakes each year in the United States. Since Florida is home to almost 50 native snake species, including six venomous ones, Florida pet owners should be very careful when their pets are outside. Dogs should be kept on a lead or in a fenced area, away from high grass, woodpiles, and rocks. Cats should be kept indoors.
Despite providing the most diligent care, your pet may still experience a snake bite. If you notice the following signs and symptoms, take your pet to a veterinarian immediately:
- Swelling, bleeding, or bruising around the bite site
- Muscle shaking or twitching
- Difficulty blinking
- Difficulty breathing
- Sudden weakness
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Bloody urine
- Enlarged pupils
Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet to provide proper treatment. Some common treatments for snake bites are:
- Cleaning the puncture site
- Benadryl to prevent an allergic reaction
- Antibiotics to prevent infection
- IV fluids for hydration
- Colloid fluids to prevent low blood pressure
- Pain medications
- Antivenom to neutralize any venom in your pet’s body
- Oxygen for pets who are having difficulty breathing
- Steroids and anti-inflammatories as needed
- Vaccination to protect from symptoms of potential future bites
If properly treated, your pet has up to an 80% chance of surviving a venomous snakebite. Quick identification and treatment are key to increasing the chance of survival. If you saw the snake that bit your pet but couldn’t catch what species it was, you can use the Snake ID Guide at https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/florida-snake-id/ to identify it. Your vet can develop a more effective treatment plan if they know exactly what type of snake was involved.
At Affordable Pet Hospital in Tampa, we provide a full range of veterinary care, including emergency care for snake bites. If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake, immediately call us 24/7 at (813) 991-9898 to speak with our on-call veterinarian.