Snakes The Time

In honor of the Copperhead living in the bushes around my office, I figured snakes the time to talk about snakes -alright I know…all bad wordplay aside, snakes are a serious concern. Living in a region of the US that has several varieties of venomous snakes, I am always on the lookout for slithering neighbors around my house, office and often on the walking trail. But being a pet mother and pet safety instructor I am always watching. I can understand what a snake is but our pups are genuinely curious, learning by touching, sniffing, licking and do not always understand when they could be in danger.

The most lethal aspect about a venomous snake is not that they can inject you with poisonous venom, instead it is the fact they are often hidden. Hiding away in the yard clippings for the compost, seeking refuge in the wood pile, camping out in the cool shade of the bushes near the deck or wandering their way through the border grass and ivy so often used for landscaping. None of these places make their long moving bodies visible.

Worst part? These are places we reach, step, move and touch without looking. They are also places of great interest to the sniffing, licking, touching, curious pups we parent.

copperhead

Copperhead Snake

Majority of snakes try to retreat when they are encroached on, whether this encroachment happens by accident or not, the snake’s first reaction is often to get away. But there are some venomous snakes who get defensive, hold their ground and are more likely to strike.

Certain snakes, whether bumped on accident by your pooch’s paw or not, have a high probability of biting. In North Carolina, the Copperhead and Cottonmouth are quickest to strike and the Pygmy Rattlesnake normally attempts to slither away, but if further bothered, will quickly attack.

You can easily identify venomous snakes by these markers, according to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences:

  • A pit between the eye and nostril and the scales on the underside of the tail are not divided
  • No pit between the eye and nostril and most scales on underside of tail are divided
  • Tip of the tail has a “rattle” or “button”
  • Top of head with large symmetrical plates
  • Top of head with irregular, fragmented scales
water moccasin

Cottonmouth Snake

When you spot a venomous snake, you have time to assess and move away. But dogs walking in the border grass and accidentally waking a Copperhead, do not have the same time to move away. According to PetTech, the first international training center for pet first aid and CPR for cats and dogs, the majority of snake bites “occur on a dog’s head, neck, front legs and paws because they investigate their world with their nose, head and paws. Bites to the head and neck can become very serious because of the potential to interfere with breathing.”

What you do in the first few moments of a venomous snake bite can result in the life or death of your pup. What then can be done? Aside from the basics of prevention- making sure you never let your dog walk in tall grass, ivy, get into bushes, under the porch or into the woodpile, snakebites may still occur regardless of how careful you might be.

Once bitten symptoms will immediately start to occur.

Signs venom has been injected include:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding around fang punctures.

Other signs include:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomit
  • Weakness or nervousness
  • Convulsions

Take immediate action to restrain, muzzle and immobilize your dog, keeping the bitten limb level with the rest of the body if possible. The sooner you can get our pup still the slower venom will spread giving you a better chance to save your dog’s life. Treat for shock and begin transportation to a vet as soon as possible.

Call the vet on the way to let them know the situation so they can be ready and waiting for you when you arrive. Do not waste a second of time getting your pet in the car and to the vet. After a venomous snake bite, dogs need to be monitored for 24 hours to ensure no further complications or infections occur.

Shock management, restraining, muzzling and snakebites are all topics covered in the PetTech first aid programs. Summers are great for hikes, long walks, trips to the mountains and even just enjoying a stay-cation in your own backyard. But nowhere will you be completely snake free. It is important to remember that even after killing a venomous snake, the snake can still possess the nerve reflex to bite.

Taking a pet first aid class today will help prepare you for a snake bite situation in the future. You never want to be sitting there wishing you knew what to do. Be proactive in your safety and the safety of the four-legged children in your family.

Enrolling in a PetTech PetSaver class will give you all the tools you need to keep your pets happy, healthy and alive during these snake infested summer months.

To find our more information on how you can help improve the quality of your pet’s life visit Nana’s Pet First Aid & CPR.

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Poison Prevention Week

Happy National Poison Prevention Week! I know, I know, this is not the most exciting or happy week to celebrate but it might be one of the most important. As reading, understanding, comprehending humans we know what is good and bad for our bodies. We know what is toxic, what will cause damage and make us sick. Our pets, however, rely on our judgement as pet parents to look after what they eat. From food to water to toys, our pets need us to help keep them safe from their inquisitive nature and desire to put everything in their mouths. You know, that pile of junk in the garage that’s oozing some unknown substance (don’t deny it, we all have one) or that tangle of cords behind the TV that is still in reach of the kitty.

Some of these things are common sense like giving chocolate or grapes to your pet but what about the pile in the garage? How often do you think about your pet getting into things around the house? How about the things we willingly give our pets that we might assume are good for them, like peanut butter? In honor of National Poison Prevention Week here is short list of common household items or foods that are severely poisonous to our pets.

  1. Lilies, Tulips and Daffodils

Lilies, especially Easter, Day, Tiger, Asiatic, Japanese and Show Lilies are all extremely toxic to pets. Consuming even two or three petals can result in kidney failure. Ingestion of any kind can be fatal to your feline. Even walking through fallen pollen and licking paws later is fatally dangerous.
lily

Tulips are major cause for concern for those of you who have pooches who love to dig. Tulip bulbs have a high concentration of toxicity to dogs and can cause tissue irritation, vomiting, excessive drooling or diarrhea.

Daffodils contain toxins in nearly all parts of the plant. The bulb, flower or plant can cause extreme abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, cardiac arrhythmia and even respiratory depression. Ingestion of the crystals on the outer layer of the bulb can trigger further reactions in your pet.

If you even suspect your pet has ingested part of these plants, head immediately to the vet or call the Pet Poison Helpline. Check out a complete list of toxic plants here.

2.  Xylitol

This natural sugar sweetener is found in nearly every type of gum, candy, mint, yogurt, ice cream and even some peanut butter. Xylitol has been known to cause hypoglycemia and severe liver damage in dogs. What exactly does that mean? VCA Animal Hospital helped Sweets-Candy-wonderfulus out with an easy explanation, “Xylitol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas. This rapid release of insulin results in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia), an effect that occurs within ten -60 minutes of eating the xylitol. Untreated, this hypoglycemia can be life threatening.” As little as five grams (.17 ounces!) can be life threatening. Check out this complete list of foods containing xylitol and be sure to read ingredient labels or consult this list before giving your pet people food!

  1. Over the Counter Medications

Advil, Aleve, Motrin and Tylenol are four of the most common medications pets can get their paws on. As little as one or two pills can cause intestinal and stomach ulcers and kidney failure. Tylenol is the most toxic according to the Pet Poison Helpline. tylenol “One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen (Tylenol) may cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells, limiting their ability to carry oxygen. In dogs, acetaminophen leads to liver failure and, in larger doses, red blood cell damage.” Toxicity affects from these medications often lasts five to six times longer in cats than dogs because cats do not have the proper proteins in their stomach to breakdown aspirin. Symptoms of poisoning may appear within ten – 30 minutes or be as delayed at 12-24 hours. Symptoms include: vomiting (potentially vomiting blood), diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain and pale gums.

If you suspect your pet may have gotten into your medicine cabinet, call the vet or Pet Poison Helpline immediately even if they do not show symptoms right away.

  1. Pesticides and Herbicides

It is spring time and that means getting those winter lawns looking green again. Killing off unwanted weeds, spraying off bees, mosquitoes and other unwanted pests is common this time of year.  However, your beautiful, bug free lawn might come at a pesticidesprice for your pets. Whether you or a lawn service are caring for your yard, read labels to find out what is and is not appropriate for pets. Dogs and outdoor cats have a tendency to eat grass and dig dirt. When grass has been chemically treated your pet is ingesting those same chemicals. Dog toys that get left in the yard during treatment get coated in toxins too. Dogs and cats often groom themselves and after a romp in the yard, chemicals and toxins stick to their paws and fur, which when grooming, get ingested and can cause damage. If you insist on getting your yard sprayed check out Pesticide Action Network’s Pesticide Database for toxicity and regulatory information.

Short, simple list right? It is hard to remember how each small thing can impact your pet’s well-being. Sending flowers for a birthday, anniversary or holiday never seemed so complicated before, but it is crucial to look up each plant before sending or receiving flowers into your home to make sure they are not toxic to your pet.

What happens if your dog hops onto the kitchen counter to swipe down that jar of Go Nuts peanut butter because it’s just ‘oh so tempting’?

Signs of poisoning can occur immediately or one day later depending on the amount consumed and which type of poison it is. Good indications that your pet has been poisoned are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive salvation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Stumbling as if drunk
  • Pale gums

If you notice any of these symptoms or even suspect your pet is poisoned call your vet IMMEDIATELY! They may instruct you to induce vomiting before bringing your pet in. If possible gather vomit or stool sample for your vet, this may help them determine the cause of poison. For this reason, it is critical to keep an unopened, up-to-date bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the house, as this is often used to induce vomiting in poison emergencies. Only administer hydrogen peroxide at the instruction of your vet!

If you cannot reach your vet call the Pet Poison Helpline 855-764-7661 for instructions. There is a $49 fee per phone call but this is nothing compared to saving your pet’s life.