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As number of copperhead bites rise, vet warns of danger to pets

Posted June 28

The sight of a Copperhead can make your heart skip a beat, especially since the North Carolina Poison Control Center says bites to people are setting records this year.

Copperheads are the most common of the four types of venomous snakes native to North Carolina, and their bites can be very painful to people and pets. While they can be difficult to spot, especially when they're slithering through pine straw, they're out there.

"We hired a guy to come out and mow the lawn, and he said that he killed 17 copperheads," said homeowner Kayla Holler.

All those snakes pose a clear danger, especially for Holler's dog, which was bitten twice.

"He was limping on his paw," Holler said. "I couldn't see anything wrong with it. By the end of the night, it had swelled up."

As number of copperhead bites rise, vet warns of danger to pets

Veterinarians say swelling is just one concern, though.

"Most of the time with a copperhead, it's really much more about controlling pain and making sure that we're not dealing with infection," said veterinarian Jodi Reed.

Reed sees a couple of pet-related snake bites each week. She says when your pet is bitten by a venomous snake it's important to get to a vet quickly.

"Sometimes if you wait too long you can have a lot more trauma and a lot more expense to your dog," Reed said.

Reed says you can give your pet Benadryl, at a dosage of one milligram per pound of body weight. A typical tablet is 25 milligrams, so a 50-pound dog would need two tablets.

As number of copperhead bites rise, vet warns of danger to pets

But Reed said you can't give a pet any over-the-counter pain medications.

"Advil and Tylenol ... can be incredibly toxic to dogs and cats," Reed said. "It can be life threatening."

As for snake bite recovery, Reed says it can vary from a few days to a couple weeks.

As number of copperhead bites rise, vet warns of danger to pets

Holler's dog took about a week to get back to health.

And after finding the 17 copperheads in her yard, Holler said she has been on the lookout for more. But she knows the risk is real.

"We haven't found any personally, but our neighbor has killed like four or five already this year," Holler said.

So, look down, pay attention and step carefully to protect you and your pets

1 Comment

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  • Jim Halbert Jun 29, 9:34 a.m.
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    the information about medicine that can be given to pets is very useful. Thanks for including it.