JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Snake season just started at the beginning of April, and pet owners should know veterinarians are seeing an increase in the number of dogs they’ve treated for venomous snake bites.
Many viewers have sent us pictures of snakes they have spotted in their yards or around their homes.
Not all the snakes are dangerous, but you need to be on the lookout so you and your family -- including the furry members -- don’t get bitten.
One local dog owner who had a close call wants to warn others about the danger.
Sandy Burgess’ dog, Sunny, was bitten by a venomous snake in her Mandarin backyard.
“My neighbor’s a vet. We ran over and said what do you think?” Burgess recalled.
Burgess said she didn’t know at the time Sunny had been bitten by a snake because she’d never seen any snakes in the yard and wasn’t with Sunny when she was bitten.
“She just laid on the floor and down, she didn’t collapse but she just laid there, and we were like, ‘Oh boy, this is changing,’ and she was starting to swell on the other side so off we went,” Burgess said.
Sunny’s left jaw swelled as they rushed her to Capital Veterinary Specialists, an emergency vet clinic.
Dr. Leo Londono treated Sunny, who survived the encounter and is now recovered and full of energy.
“There are two main types of venomous snakes in Florida -- one of them is going to be the coral snake, they don’t really show warning signs. The dog slowly gets weaker and weaker and becomes paralyzed,” Londono said.
Fortunately, that did not happen with Sunny. But Londono said he’s seen an increase in the number of dogs bitten in the last two weeks.
The most common culprits in our area?
“The rattlesnakes, you have the Eastern Diamondback, timber rattlesnake, water moccasin all of those snakes cause swelling and bleeding,” Londono said.
He says 80% of the time the dog has to be treated with anti-venin to prevent the animal from getting really sick or worse.
Sunny just needed observation and was able to go home the next day, but she’s fortunate because bites can be deadly.
“Because the venom not only affects the local area of the bite, but it can also cause a coagulation issue which can make them bleed not only externally but also internally,” Londono said.
Londono said the best way to prevent a snake bite is to keep your dog on a leash, so they don’t roam.
If you suspect a snake, he said treating swelling with Benadryl or applying a tourniquet to your animal’s paw or limb does NOT work to prevent sickness.
The only treatment is antivenin. You need to take your pet to a vet immediately.