Ah, spring . . . and a snakebite alert

March 3, 2014
Ah, spring . . . and a snakebite alert
Texas veterinarian warns that warmer weather puts people, pets at greater risk.

(HealthDay)—As temperatures rise and spring rains fall, snakes in the U.S. Southwest—including venomous snakes—leave their winter hideouts and become more active. That puts people and their pets at greater risk for painful snakebites, a veterinarian says.

"This is the time of year when all reptiles become more active. Even water turtles begin to shed their scutes for the shiny new ones underneath," said Dr. Jill Heatley.

"I spoke with one of our doctors the other day and said to be sure and tell that dogs and cats are likely to encounter snakes this time of year," Heatley, associate professor of in the Small Animal Hospital at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said in a university news release. "If you believe your pet has been bitten, you need to seek veterinary care and the doctor can determine what kind of treatment is necessary."

While dogs are typically bitten on their face or nose, cats are often struck on their paws. Heatley warned pet owners that snakebites require prompt medical attention since snake venom can spread quickly and result in kidney failure within 24 hours.

"The area that has been bitten will usually begin to swell almost immediately, and that's a tell-tale sign to look for," she noted.

Treatment for can be pricey, Heatley added. Patients bitten by a may incur medical bills of $50,000 or more. These people may need to be hospitalized for up to several weeks, receive antivenom and have damaged tissue treated.

Four types of are found in the southwestern United States: , copperhead, rattlesnake and cottonmouth or the water moccasin. However, Heatley said these snakes are typically not looking to bite people.

"The thing to remember about snakes is that, generally, they want to be left alone. They are probably more afraid of you," she explained. "The coral, copperhead and rattlesnake are almost never aggressive unless they are provoked. The cottonmouth has been known to be a little on the aggressive side, so you should be a little more wary of it, especially if you are near a creek or lake where they have been frequently seen."

Sometimes it's difficult to distinguish between venomous and non-venomous snakes. Heatley said venomous snakes likely have a triangular-shaped head. Meanwhile, coral snakes, which are part of the cobra family and can have very strong venom, are brightly colored with rows of yellow, red and black markings.

Explore further: Cost of snakebite therapy may squeeze victims' wallets

More information: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on venomous snakes.

Related Stories

Cost of snakebite therapy may squeeze victims' wallets

April 24, 2012
(HealthDay) -- It goes without saying that bites from venomous snakes can be painful and dangerous, but they can also be very expensive, an expert warns.

Python venom traces could waste antivenom

April 16, 2013
A University of Queensland researcher has found the potential for Australian doctors to prescribe expensive antivenom to snake bite victims who don't need it.

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.