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Snake Week: Know your snakes

posted May 31st, 2013 by
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I hope you have all had a chance to check out the May/June issue of Tulsa Pets Magazine and in particular my article on snake bites. If not, you can check it out here: http://www.tulsapetsmagazine.com/category/past-issues/.

I packed quite a bit of info into the article, but still have some more interesting info to share when it comes to snake bites and pets.

One of the most important things that can help your pet if he does get bitten is knowing exactly what did it.

According to Dr. Shad Wilkerson, DVM at Oklahoma Veterinary Specialists, copperheads are the most common snake found in our area and “luckily the least dangerous of the ones we have here.”

But do you know what a copperhead looks like? I didn’t before working on this article.

Like a lot of people, I find snakes… yucky, to put it nicely. I don’t really want to think about them or look at their pictures just because.

But as a responsible pet owner, should one of my animals become injured by a snake, I need to know what I’m dealing with.

So for the pet owners who could use a little brushing up on IDing snakes, here are the top three you need to look out for.

Copperhead: The most common venomous snake in our area, also the least venomous. Read more and view pictures here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agkistrodon_contortrix.

Rattlesnakes: Next most common venomous snake in our area and one of the most venomous. Read more and view pictures here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rattlesnake

Water moccasins or cottonmouth: Not seen very often in our area, more venomous than a copperhead, but less venomous than a rattlesnake. People often confuse black rat snakes for the water moccasin. The difference is black rat snakes do not have fangs, just small teeth. Read more and view pictures here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agkistrodon_piscivorus

In the heat of the moment, it may be hard to remember which is which. For those new to identifying snakes, try to snap a picture with your cell phone if you have it handy and you feel safe doing so.

If you are able to, kill the snake and bring it with you to veterinarian’s office.

And for more info on snake bites and what to do if your pet gets bitten, make sure to check out the article in this month’s issue: http://www.tulsapetsmagazine.com/category/past-issues/.

- Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

Snake Week: The difference between cats and dogs

posted May 28th, 2013 by
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I hope you have all had a chance to check out the May/June issue of Tulsa Pets Magazine and in particular my article on snake bites. If not, you can check it out here: http://www.tulsapetsmagazine.com/category/past-issues/.

I packed quite a bit of info into the article, but still have some more interesting info to share when it comes to snake bites and pets.

Any pet owner knows that there are plenty of differences between cats and dogs. And these differences can play an important role when it comes to snake bites, who gets bitten, they type of bite and treatment.

“Dogs and cats generally interact with snakes differently,” said Dr. Elena Shirley, DVM at Hunters Glen Veterinary Hospital. “Cats like to play with snakes, they are fascinated by the movement, they are stalking it and that sort of thing, they will very often get what is called an offensive bite as opposed to dogs who usually unintentionally disturb it or may sniff toward it but they are not usually playing with the snake.”

Because of this initial difference in interaction, a dog will usually get a defensive bite and usually only one, Shirley said. Although there are exceptions to every rule and the breed of dog can make a difference as well.

The type of bite received can make a difference in the amount of venom released. The level of venom expelled by the snake will increase if it’s an offensive bite, as opposed to a defensive bite, Shirley said.

“Another important behavioral difference between cats and dogs, is that cats very often if they have been bitten will go and hide and so very often they may not be presented to the veterinarian as quickly as a dog will be,” Shirley said.

“Dogs will more likely seek human attention and interaction more quickly so the problem is noticed more quickly by the owner and the dog is brought to the veterianarian more quickly. So they have a better shot at being treated successfully because it hasn’t been going on as long.”

Last year, all of the animals treated for snake bites at Oklahoma Veterinary Specialists were dogs according to their records.

Size also makes a difference when it comes to snake bites. A smaller animal is going to be at a higher risk of more severe invenomition and intoxication because of the venom to size ratio, Shirley said.

For more information on preventing and treating snake bites, be sure to read the article in this month’s issue of Tulsa Pets Magazine.

-Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]