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Vets seeing increase in snakes biting dogs

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JOHNSON COUNTY, KS (KCTV) -

Area veterinarians warn that they are treating more dogs for snake bites this summer.

Bluepearl Veterinary Partners handles emergency and specialty cases. The clinic has seen 16 dogs suffering from snake bites in August alone. 

Dr. Ryan Bragg said a number of factors could be leading to the increase.

"We're guessing a wet summer and mild temperatures," he said. "Maybe more snake activity or more people outdoors with their dogs because it's not as hot."

He said more humans are venturing into rural areas, but snake bites are also occurring in backyards.

If you don't see your dog get bit but suspect it, there are warning signs, Bragg said.

"We see the dogs have swelling. They'll cry out when it happens," the vet said. "A lot of times they'll be bleeding at the site of the bite."

If your dog is bitten, it's vital that you get the animal to the vet immediately.

"People think you might want to place a tourniquet or suck out the venom," Bragg said. "Those things don't help, and if anything, they delay proper medical care. Bring them to a veterinarian right away."

Copperheads are located in the Kansas City area while rattlesnakes are more common around the Lake of the Ozarks. Some nonvenomous snakes do bite, but they are less serious.

Snake bites can be mild and on a rare occasion fatal. Smaller dogs are more likely to have an issue. And "the worst thing" is a bite from a baby snake because they can't control the venom they inject, Bragg said.

"Where they're bitten will also be an issue," Bragg said. "The face and the leg are the most common. They either step on it or they are sniffing it."

Cats typically will be bitten on the side, Bragg said. A cat may try to play with it or antagonize it.

"Cat bites are usually worse because they're smaller, and they may have made the snake mad beforehand," Bragg said. "Dogs by nature are very curious. They don't have a classical aversion to snakes."

If you believe there is a snake in your area or backyard, don't let your dog off the leash and keep a close eye on your environment, Bragg said. Dog parks are typically fine.

Meredith Bagby has a 5-month-old English pointer named Myla. She said she looks around carefully while walking her dog especially when walking over rocks.

"Sometimes the snakes will be underneath," she said. "You have to make sure you see it before your or your dog step on it."

She knows to keep a close eye on Myla. She said her grandfather had two dogs bitten by rattlesnakes, and that one died.

"I like the outdoors," Bagby said. "My biggest concern is snakes. You don't see them until it's too late."

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