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D2005-39

Dear Daisy Dog

My friend’s dog was bitten by a copperhead snake while they were walking along the same trails my dogs and I walk. What should I know about copperhead bites? How quickly must I get my dog to the vet if he is bitten? Should I carry antivenin with me?

Daisy Responds

Oh, my, what a scary thought for a princess like me. I think I’ll continue walking in my own neighborhood.

If your dogs are braver than I and they wish to keep walking these trails, the best I can do is reassure you that copperhead bites are rarely fatal to dogs.

In fact, the copperhead snake is the least dangerous of the North American pit vipers.

Because a single copperhead bite is not terribly venomous, most veterinarians recommend that antivenin not be administered – assuming you are sure a copperhead inflicted the bite.

Many factors influence the toxicity of a snake’s venom: the type of snake, its age and size, the volume of venom injected, the time elapsed since venom was last released, the geographic region of the country and even the season of the year.

If a copperhead bites your dog, wash the wound and keep your dog quiet. Do not ice the area, make an incision or apply a tourniquet.

Snake bites are painful, so it’s important to see your veterinarian the day of the bite so treatment can begin.

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