Depending on where you live, snake bites, particularly poisonous snake bites, can be a problem. In fact, according to the ASPCA, as many as 100 000 cats and dogs are bitten by venomous snakes each year. And sure, while dog snake bites may not be super common, they’re still dangerous.
On the off-chance your dog does encounter a snake on a walk, and gets bitten, do you know what to do? What are the symptoms of a snake bite, and what actions can you take to make sure your pup is ok?
And how can you avoid them in the first place?
Knowing what to do is paramount, so here’s a quick and easy guide to protecting yourself and your pets from snake bites, and what to do if your dog ever gets bitten.
Avoiding Dog Snake Bites
The best course of action when it comes to dog snake bites is to avoid them in the first place. And yes, while sometimes they’re unavoidable, some extra care and caution helps. These tips are easy to implement, and they’ll help keep both you and your pup safe:
- When in an unknown area, or an area well known for venomous snakes, keep your dog leashed.
- Avoid snake habitats, such as stone ledges and brush piles on your walks.
- Stay to well-worn paths/trails.
- Always keep an eye out for snakes and keep your dog away from them.
It also helps to know which snakes are common in your area. These are the most common venomous snakes and where they live:
- Rattlesnakes (many different varieties): found across the country
- Coral snakes: found primarily in Arizona, Texas, and Florida
- Copperheads: found in Eastern and Central U.S.
- Cottonmouth/Water Moccasins: found in the Southeast, Eastern and Central U.S.
So what if, despite your best efforts, your dog still gets bitten?
What to Do if Your Dog is Bitten
Sometimes dog snake bites happen when you’re not around, so if you’re in an area where you know snakes are active, it’s always good to know the signs/symptoms of a bite. Sometimes your dog will react right away, but sometimes it can take up to 24 hours for the symptoms to appear. Common symptoms to watch for include:
- Sudden weakness and possible collapse
- Swollen area on the body
- Puncture wounds
- Bleeding or bruising
- Trembling, twitching, and shaking
- Dilated pupils
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Blood in the urine
If you dog is acting strangely, exhibiting any of the symptoms above, and you’re concerned a snake bite might be the cause, head to the vet.
But, if you’re out on the trail, a snake crosses your path, and your dog goes for it and you know for sure your dog was bitten – DON’T wait to see the above signs! Take action immediately.
If your dog gets a snake bite, here’s what to do:
- Stay calm. Your stress will just amplify your dog’s stress, and their body does not need that extra stress.
- Inspect your dog. If the snake bite was venomous, you’ll see significant swelling in the area where the dog was bitten.
- Try to identify if the snake is venomous or nonvenomous. Take a picture of it if you can.
- Call your veterinarian immediately, and head in right away. Even if you don’t think it’s a venomous bite, it’s better to be safe.
- Give your dog any over-the-counter medications.
- Apply ice, hot/cold packs, sprays, or tourniquets.
- Attempt to suck out the venom.
All of these can actually make things worse.
Dog snake bites are scary. And they often need immediate treatment. Be careful out there on the trails, and if you do encounter a snake, stay away. And, if by chance your dog gets bitten, head to the vet!
The Veterinarious team is made up of pet owners, pet lovers, and pet experts from around the globe! We’ve banded together to create a community of like-minded pet people to give you the latest research and health advice for your beloved beast!