Animal hospital warns pet owners to be aware of snakes - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Animal hospital warns pet owners to be aware of snakes

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An area animal hospital is noticing an alarming trend they want pet parents to be aware of.

The Richmond Hill Animal Hospital has taken to social media to spread the word about an increase in the number of pets being brought in to be treated for rattlesnake bites.

Monday night, the Richmond Hill Animal Hospital had two dogs brought in with rattlesnake bites. And it's not just that hospital that has seen a spike in rattlesnake bites, several others WTOC spoke to in the area said the same thing.

The vets there are attributing the trend to the changing weather, and have some words of warning for all the pet owners.

Veterinarian Hunter Brigdon said more and more pet encounters with Eastern Diamondback rattlesnakes aren't happening in thickly-forested areas, but rather in populated residential neighborhoods. Often times it’s around homes that back up to wooded areas.

"Most of the bites occur between 5 and 7 p.m. That's when owners come home, let their dogs out, let them run out in the back yard. They're not on a leash, but it's a back yard, these yards are fenced in. The snakes are crawling under them and biting the dogs,” said Dr. Hunter Brigdon, Richmond Hill Animal Hospital.

Like people, pets need an anti-venom if bitten. Brigdon said after doling out nearly a half-dozen treatments in recent weeks, that they're running through their supply quickly.

There is a proactive approach pet owners can take.

"There is a vaccination, but it doesn't cover all snakes, and if your pet is bit by a rattlesnake, you still need to seek veterinary advice,” said Dr. Brigdon.

The vaccination was originally designed for Western Diamondback Rattlers, but it covers Eastern Diamondbacks as well.

In addition to that measure, the doctor said simply keep an eye on your pooch when it's outside.

"A lot of these dogs are your curious breeds, your Jack Russell Terriers. They're going up and pestering the snake, snake bites them. A few of the bites have been dogs just walking over the snake and getting struck. Some of them walk completely over the snake,” said Dr. Brigdon.

And even more frequent than rattlesnake bites, are copperhead bites. However, the doctor said with copperheads, most times they don't have to treat the dog with anti-venom.

The animal hospital wanted to emphasize that even if your dog has received the vaccination for rattlesnake bites, it's important that you bring the animal to the vet to get checked out.

And by the way, the rattlesnake vaccine is a fraction of the cost of the anti-venom, which costs $750 for a single dose.

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