Rain raises rattlesnake danger for pets

If an animal is bitten by a rattlesnake, officials say to bring the pet into an animal clinic quickly to avoid long-term damage (File Photo)

With heavy amounts of rain across the Panhandle recently, animals are forced to move to higher grounds to avoid the flooding.

Rick Gilliland, district supervisor for the Texas Wildlife Services Program, says the rainfall creates a habitat that attracts these animals.

One of these animals is a rattlesnake. Some residents in Amarillo have reported rattlesnakes appearing in their yards and coming into contact with their pets. Dr. Beau Schilling is a veterinarian at Swann Animal Clinic in Amarillo. He said if a pet is bitten by a rattlesnake, prompt care is the most important thing to help minimize swelling and create less damage and pain to the pet.

“Often times, unfortunately, pets that don’t get care right away and experience a lot of pain and swelling will have the muscles and the skin that are affected, die and fall off the pet," Schilling said. "They are certainly treatable, but it can become a month’s long process just to get that pet fully recovered."

To tell the difference between a poisonous and nonpoisonous snake, Gilliland says to look at the pupil and nostril. He says nonpoisonous snakes have a round eye pupil and no pit between the eye and the nostril, while poisonous snakes have elliptical pupils and a deep pit on each side of the head.

Dr. Schilling says some symptoms to look out for include changes in behavior, such as a dog hiding, not wanting to be touched, or even crying out or biting because the rattlesnake bite is extremely painful for them. He also says there may be some swelling that his hidden under fur.

If bitten by a rattlesnake, an anti-venom is given to the animal. However, Dr. Schilling says it only works if the bite happened within 2-4 hours, which is why he stresses the importance of bringing in the pet early.

In order to prevent bites all together, Gilliland says it starts with proper lawn care.

"Remove weeds, any kind of brush that's not desirable to have. Just remove that and any kind of boards that may by lying on the ground, particularly like firewood. Things of that nature can attract snakes," Gilliland said.

If your pet is bitten, Dr. Schilling says to bring the animal to the clinic as a walk in or seek care at the local emergency pet clinic.

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