Taking Action: Preventing your pets from being bitten by venomous snakes

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HUNTSVILLE, AL- "When more humans are getting bit by venomous reptiles, so are cats and dogs," said Dr. Karen Sheppard, Director of Huntsville Animal Services.

In the warmer months, our animals--just like us, want to spend more time outside and so do venomous reptiles.

"Just this week at the emergency center here in Huntsville, they had one cat and four dogs that came in contact with rattlesnakes, copperheads and cotton mouths," said Dr. Sheppard.

Dr. Sheppard says snake bites on animals can cause a lot of damage and can be fatal, especially on smaller pets.

"I've just seen a few where they get bitten right around the trachea and then they suffocate, I mean they can't breathe," said Dr. Sheppard.

So how can you know if your pet has been bitten?

"They'll be crying and you're always going to find the classic two puncture marks. They'll usually be oozing and if the pet can touch at that area, they'll be licking at it," said Dr. Sheppard.

Dr. Sheppard says keeping snakes away from your pets is just like keeping them away from your home.

"Keep leaves and debris picked up, snakes are looking for a place to hunt for mice and to rest," explained Dr. Sheppard.

If you plan to go hiking with your animal, it's important to watch where you're going and stay on the beaten path to keep you and your animals safe.

"Snakes are going to try to avoid us, so if you're on paths that are used often it's very likely you're not going to come into contact with a venomous snake," said Dr. Sheppard.

If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake do not wait to get help, suffocation can happen quickly.