Guest Blogger, Denise Fleck – sunnydogink.com
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BITE LIKE A RATTLER, STING LIKE A BEE…
First Aide for your Dog
By Denise Fleck, www.sunnydogink.com
One Summer morning, two Dachshund pups were playfully exploring their fenced yard when Rudy caught Abigail off guard and bounded at her from behind the rose bushes. As Abby took a tumble landing dazed and confused, a bumble bee buzzed passed her. The twosome, quickly distracted by this new found fun, attempted to play a game of pounce with the tiny buzzing creature. Fun did ensue for a few moments, but it then turned nasty as the bee planted his stinger right onto the tip of Rudy’s nose! The pup pawed furiously at his face, and as it began to swell, Rudy started looking more like a Bulldog than a Doxie.
Generally dogs paw at and remove the insect’s stinger, but should you see one through your pet’s fur coat (or on his nose, lip, paw or elsewhere), scrape it away with a credit card, popsicle stick or similar stiff object. Pulling the stinger with fingers or tweezers could rupture the poison sac allowing the toxin to enter your pet’s body. Administer 1 mg Benadryl per pound of your dog’s body weight, and apply a cold pack (a bag of frozen peas works well) to any swelling. Should severe swelling or any breathing difficulties develop, get to your Veterinarian at once.
Black Widow Spiders terrify us all with their distinctive red hour-glass marking, but rarely are they fatal. Small dogs sometimes have bigger issues with the venom due to their size. Treat bites with ice and Benadryl as you would for a bee sting, and should your dog develop unusual redness, pain, difficulty breathing or paralysis…get to the Vet ASAP.
Brown Recluse Spiders tend to hide in dark, secluded areas and their venom is known to destroy tissue surrounding the bite. Approximately 1/2 inch to 2 inches long, the Brown Recluse can be identified by a distinctive fiddle-shaped mark on its back. When bitten, most dogs do not realize it, but after a while redness occurs. Clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexidine or povidone iodine. If your dog appears lethargic, develops a rash, fever, chills, vomiting or diarrhea or if the wound becomes larger or persistent drainage occurs, seek Veterinary assistance.
Another danger to our dogs comes in the form of venomous snakes. In California the eight species of Rattlesnakes are active year round. Their physical appearance varies, but all can be identified by a broad, triangular head, vertical pupils as opposed to round ones (though hopefully you won’t be close enough to evaluate this), and heat-sensing “pits” between the eyes and nostrils which help them locate prey.
Prevention is the best medicine! While out walking, your best safety device is keeping control of your dog on a leash. Stay on open paths, and don’t allow your dog to explore holes or dig under logs or rocks where snakes hide (yeah, right — but doing so can prevent much pain, suffering and even death).
Keep pets away from areas covered in ivy and wood piles where snake food (mice) hide.
If your pet gets bitten, assume it is a poisonous bite. Even if it isn’t, non-venomous snakes transmit bacteria (remember…they eat rodents and don’t brush their teeth) making Veterinary Care vital!
Baby snakes can be just as dangerous as their full-grown counterparts. They are born with fangs and venom and generally give all they’ve got with each and every bite!
Snake Bite Vaccine can buy you time, but you’ll still need to get to your Veterinarian quickly if your dog is bitten. Vaccinated dogs typically develop protection comparable to a couple vials of anti-venin.
- Keep the wound at or below the level of the heart.
- Keep your dog or cat calm and carry him if possible. Increasing your pet’s pulse and respiration also increases the absorption of the venom.
- Immediately call your Animal Emergency Center to make sure they have anti-venin and let them know you’re on the way so that they will start mixing it – it takes 30 minutes to prepare. Ask if you should administer Benadryl® (usual dose for snake bites is 2 mg per pound of pet’s body weight).
- If possible, identify the type of snake or be able to describe it, but do not get near it.
- DO NOT cut over the fang marks or try to suck out the poison.
- DO NOT move the animal any more than needed.
- DO NOT place an ice pack over the bite which could result in the limb having to be amputated. Venom is caustic and immediately breaks down tissue and blood cells, so as much as don’t want it traveling to the vital organs, you also do not want the concentration of toxin frozen in one place.
Do you know where your nearest Animal Emergency Hospital is? Don’t wait until it is too late to find out!
Denise founded Sunny-dog Ink in 1999 to help people help their pets. She has developed the curriculum for her Pet First-Aid & CPCR (yes, there’s now a second “C”) classes as well as for the high school Animal Care program she teaches in conjunction with the Burbank Unified School District and Animal Shelter. She recently won Children’s Book of the Year from the Dog Writers Association of America for “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover,” and has a new book out entitled “Pet First Aid for Kids,” with three more books coming in 2014. Learn more at www.sunnydogink.com.