Carson City vet shares pet care after snake encounter

Lone Mountain Veterinary Hospital has treated its first snakebite patient of the season, Dr. Katie Roberts said, but the outcome has been positive and Lone Mountain expects there to be more as the weather warms up.

Snakes of the venomous and non-venomous varieties are being drawn out to the open — on sidewalks, roadways, shallow ditches and places not immediately obvious to those out walking with their pets at this time of year. That happened to one local who was out with his dog at about 4:45 p.m. Monday walking along the railroad grade above Silver Oak. The dog owner, wishing to stay anonymous, according to Roberts, brought his dog into Lone Mountain quickly after encountering a snake that had been curled up in a ditch in a trail.

“The snake wasn’t rattling and it was a shock to everyone; it was right on the trail and it was a little disguised,” she said. “The dog got bit on the face, so he rushed her right in and she received some care here.”

The dog was stabilized at about 5:15 p.m. at the Carson City facility and they sent her to Animal Emergency Center in Reno for the evening because of the late hour to be monitored. Roberts said the owner was “quick-witted,” adding “he knew right away that he needed to get her here.”

Lone Mountain will provide pets who have been bitten by snakes with narcotics to abate the pain and it helps get a catheter down to draw blood. She said they typically hold off on antiflammatories because it can impact clotting.

The staff also will direct owners to limit a pet’s activity after a bite and treatment to ensure they don’t risk further traumatizing the wound.

“Temperature’s not really a factor in that,” she said. “For snakes, of course, they like to bask in the sun, where it’s warm and dirty.”

For pet owners who end up in a dangerous situation with a snake, keeping calm and getting help quickly is the best approach, Roberts said.

“The biggest thing is if they know their dog got bit is to get them into the nearest hospital and if they’re small enough to carry, then lift them up, and if (the bite) is on the leg, then try to keep the leg below the heart so they’re not pumping venom into the body,” she said.

Lone Mountain often will see more dogs than cats who have received bites from snakes.

“Cats are pretty discriminating,” she said. “Dogs tend to be more curious.”

She and her staff, however, will treat reptiles, including snakes of the nonpoisonous variety, small mammals and rabbits.

Roberts said she graduated with her degree in 2003 and joined Lone Mountain in 2009, adding there are many things she loves about veterinary medicine.

“I love the relationships between pets and owners and being able to help keep their furry family members being healthy if they’re sick,” she said. “I love the education. … I think that’s important so they can take the best care of their pets. … I’m a big fan of preventive medicine.”


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