LAUREL of Northeast Georgia June 22

Page 52

Health & Wellness

Pets and Wildlife By Dr. Brad Speed


ith the arrival of Summer comes all the activities that make the North Georgia mountains so popular. Whether hiking, boating, camping, or just visiting the great outdoors, you’re most likely going to have your pets along for the ride. When in the outdoors there’s plenty of opportunity for interactions with wildlife. Let’s discuss some of the interactions and the “do’s and don’ts” of making contact with our most common local wildlife. Snakes One of the more dangerous and common creatures our pets come across during the summer months are snakes. While a good portion of these snakes are non venomous, and therefore not dangerous, we do have a few poisonous snakes to look out for. These would be the Copperhead, Timber Rattler, and possibly the Water Moccasin (depending on your location and range in the state) The most serious of these is the rattlesnake, and thankfully we see the fewest bites from them. Avoidance is the best medicine here. If you encounter a venomous snake, try to get/keep your dog away from it. Also be aware that snakes move more in the late spring and early fall around here. During these times it is best to keep an eye on your pet when they are outside. It seems like most snakebites occur around dusk, when dogs are out to pee, and snakes are coming out to hunt. Most of the time, the owner doesn’t see the bite occur, which makes treatment more of a challenge. The most common presentation of a snakebite is a dog with a suddenly painful swollen face or leg. The bite will swell substantially within an hour’s time if it’s bad. They often drip bloody fluid from the wound, depending on the type and severity of the bite. My suggestion would be to treat any confirmed poisonous snakebite

as an emergency. Benadryl can be given as a stop gap, but get your pet to a vet to head off any complications. Insects There are plenty of insects that can bother your dog. Yellow jackets, spiders, scorpions to name a few. Scorpions and spiders like cool, dark, damp places. Be aware of these with dogs that hang out under the porch, or when cleaning up around the outside of the house. Pest control is the best way to head these guys off, but they are a part of life here. Wasps love the underside of grills that get used once or twice during the summer, so look carefully before opening those up. Yellow Jackets are probably the biggest problem, as they can nest fully in the ground or up on elevated surfaces like bushes or trees. Yellow jackets become increasingly aggressive as the summer goes on, and dogs can take several stings from getting into a nest. While stings are painful to a pet, they are not life threatening in most circumstances. Use common sense here. If a dog has been stung once, you can give Benadryl and monitor. If they have multiple stings or are showing signs of an allergic reaction (facial swelling, vomiting, hives), consider emergency treatment. Deer, Raccoons, Possums, Rodents Indirect dangers are from these guys. Dogs that chase deer can run for miles before realizing they are lost. It’s best not to let them do it. By far the biggest danger from this group is

more likely

leptospirosis. Deer, Racoons, Possums, and Rodents can all carry and transmit

Brad is an associate Veterinarian at Rabun Animal Hospital. He graduated Rabun County High School in 2002, earned his bachelor degree in Animal and Dairy Science (2005) and then his DVM in Veterinary Medicine, both at the University of Georgia (2010). He lives in Clayton with his wife, daughter, son, and many 2, 3, and 4 legged animals. 50 - - June 2022