Snake bites on dogs can either lead to death or affect your dog’s life negatively. Snake attack dogs more than other domestic animals in the world and the fatality rate is alarming. Poisonous serpents and lizards are found in most parts of the United States but very prominent in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, South Carolina, and Alabama.
Puppies are naturally curious and are usually victims on there the first encounter with these serpents. Bites from nonpoisonous snakes are painful but not fatal. It can only cause infection, inflammation, redness, and numbness. But bite from a venomous snake is so potent that the puppy would be dead in less than an hour unless first aid treatment for a snake bite is administered before that time frame.
Over 10,000 people are bitten annually by venomous snakes in the US. The fatalities are kept well under 100 thanks to anti-venom and modern medicine. Most dogs aren’t so lucky, their owners don’t know that they have been bitten until it’s too late.
In this article, I’m gonna teach you how to protect your dogs from snakes, how to know when your dog has been bitten by a venomous snake, first aid for snakebite in dogs and best ways to keep snakes away from your homes. The content of this post is not just applied to dogs. It also works for humans, cats, and other pets.
Snakes In The United States
Snakes are cold-blooded reptiles that have adapted over the years to live comfortably in any type of habitat & climate from swamps to deserts, marshes, forests, savanna, and grasslands. Being cold-blooded, snakes can’t regulate their body temperatures, so they seek out warm places above trees, rocks, burrows, or bushes and even in our homes. They slitter in a freely into our homes like they own the place and find the warmest places to relax.
Snakes bites usually occur after winter. When the snow has melted and the sun is shining brighter in spring, early fall or summer. They have been brumating [medical term for “hibernation” in snakes] and fasting for months. So when the snow melts, they like to get their fangs on whatever they can humans, rats or our furry four-legged friends.
There are 2 types of snakes: venomous and non-venomous serpents.
The venomous snake poses the greatest threat to dogs. There are close to 30 species of venomous snakes in the United States alone. They are classified into Crotalids and Elapidae. Some of the most notorious kinds of venomous snakes in the USA are rattlesnakes, pit vipers, copperheads, the eastern coral snake, and cottonmouths.
Venomous snakes possess a large number of toxins that cause tissue damage and destroy the nervous system. When a snake bites a dog, human or any other animal, it injects venom from two hollow fangs directly into the tissue. Once the venom is absorbed, It is carried into the system by the lymphatic system around the body, making death certain within an hour.
Non Venomous Snakes
Just because they are non-venomous doesn’t mean that they are not dangerous. I believe non-venomous snakes pose more threats to dogs especially little puppies and growing dogs. Non-venomous snakes are usually bigger and stronger then venomous snakes.
These types of snakes kill by constriction. Meaning your puppy might have gone to the garden to ease himself and never come back. You may think that he ran away but sadly, he may have been attacked by one. Some of the most notable non-venomous snakes are pythons, garter snakes, bull snakes, boas, kingsnakes, black racers and of course anacondas.
Not all non-venomous snakes are constrictors. Some smaller species can’t aren’t big enough to constrict a dog, so they have toxic bites that aren’t deadly. Although not deadly, these bites can cause severe pain, itching, inflammation, and dizzyness to dogs.
Why Do Snakes bite dogs?
Envenomation is a medical/veterinary term used to describe snake bites in dogs. Snakes usually attack when they are threatened or provoked. This means that a snake would only attack your dog because he did not thread around it cautiously, he attacked the snake, or was too curious to find out was it was.
Population density and other human activity affect the rate of snakebites worldwide. You see, with the constant rise of urbanization, people are moving into places that were once thick forest and popular snake habitat/breeding grounds.
Once a new family moves to this place, encounters with these serpents are very common and from time to time, the dogs or his puppy would get attacked by a snake.
Symptoms of snakebite on dogs
When your dog is attacked by a snake, you may not notice because he can just walk up to you and say “Help! Help! I’ve been bitten by a rope”. He would usually feel bad, run to his bed and lay down. You have to be observant to know when your dog has been bitten by a serpent.
Identifying the species of snake is one of the best ways to start a snake bite diagnosis on dogs and save the life of your dog. With a proper diagnosis, you can easily identify if the bites on the dog are fatal or harmless.
As a good pet owner, you should know when your dog’s behavior changes. The effect of the snake venom on the dog’s system is active almost immediately.
The symptoms of snakebite on dogs usually appear within 20 minutes and 1 hour after the dog was bitten, depending on the snake that attacked him, the specie of snake and the toxicity of its venom. These are the general symptoms of snake bites on dogs:
- Fang marks
- Swelling around the bite area
- Excessive drooling
- Bleeding from the bite area
- Diarrhea, Nausea, trembling, shaking/twitching of muscles
- General body pain and Sudden weakness(tetraparesis)
- Respiratory problem
- Excessive salivation and foaming around the mouth (ptyalism)
- Drop-in blood pressure & collapse
- Itching/weakness of the muscles (ataxia).
- Dilated pupils not responsive to light.
- Blood in the urine.
When your dog gets bitten by a snake, it would be awesome if you know the snake that bit your dog, this allows the vet to administered anti-venom early & properly. Dog bitten by venomous snakes will die if anti-venom is not administered on time.
When your dog gets bitten by a non-venomous snake, the wound is not a big deal. It wounds only become infected if it is not treated. In general, these are the major difference in bites between venomous and non-venomous snakes.
|Non-venomous snake||Venomous snake|
|Multiple bite marks around the woundProfuse bleeding from the woundMinor pain around the bite area||Shaking and dizzynessExcessive salivationVomitingRapid, shallow breathingMuscle damage (necrosis)Tissue damageBleeding from the wound site|
How to Treat a Snake Bite on a Dog
Untreated snake bites are the most fatal. Approximately 80% of pets in the United States survive a snake bite if they received proper treatment in time. A prompt response is important when dealing with a snake bite in dogs.
There is not much that you can do when your dog is bitten by a venomous snake. The best thing you can do is to rush your dog to a vet and try to identify/recognize the specie of snake that attacked him.
As a good dog parent, you should also try to memorize all the symptoms of the envenomation on your dog and seek medical attention from a vet as fast as possible.
There are also some recommended first aid treatments that can be administered for snake bites in dogs. If you can’t get to a proper health center in time, the best first aid you can administer is to make sure your dog remains calm and motionless.
- This slows down his heartbeat and the movement of the venom. You should also remove his collar or harness to allow free airways movement. You should also on the car AC and carry him to the car, from the car, and into the theatre.
- The limit is movement as much as you can. You can also get a rope or cord and tie the area above the bite mark to restrict blood movement and slow down the spread of venom.
- When administering first aid treatment to a bitten by a snake, you should not apply ice, slash the wound ope ad attempt to suck the venom, apply tourniquet, alcohol or pain killer.
Veterinary Treatment For Snake Bites
Veterinary treatment for snake bites varies depending on how severe the case is, symptoms & specie of snake. Treatment for envenomation usually involves the administration of antivenom, oxygen supplementation, antivenene, and intravenous fluids to neutralize the effect of the snake venom in the dog’s system.
How To Prevent Snake Bites in Dogs
There is no foolproof way to prevent snake bites in dogs, but there are simple steps you can take to reduce attack around your home. Taking these delicate procedures doesn’t just protect your dog from snake bites, It also protects you, your family and any other pet that you have.
These are the best way to prevent snake bites in dogs:
- The best way to prevent snake bites in dogs is to keep a close eye on him especially in areas where there have been sightings of venomous snakes. Some of the most common places where dogs get bitten by snakes are backyard, hiking trails, campsites, riverbeds, bushes, and gardens.
- Always be alert when you go out with your dog in any of these places. When you are around snake-infested areas, wear boots and carry your dog. DO NOT put your hands inside holes in rocks, woodpiles, and deep grass.
- Dogs are naturally inquisitive. When exercising them in a snake-infested area, always use a leash.
- Over 46% of snake bites occur when they are provoked. When you see a snake, Keep a 6ft distance between you/your dog and the snake. If you see the snake trying to attack your dog. DO NOT try to catch or kill the snake [some species of snakes are protected by the states], you may end up getting bitten.
Even if you kill the snake, do not pick it up with your hands. The head of a snake can stay alive for up to an hour after the body has been severed.
- One of the best ways to prevents snake bites is to know the snakes in the area. You can look up the most dangerous snakes in Africa, the USA, or Australia, understand their behaviors, characteristics and then take preventive measures.
- Keep your backyard, lawn, garden clean, your grasses of short, and remove all garbage bin stay too close to the house. This will reduce hiding spots for snakes.
- If you have a garden, consider planting snake/reptile deterring plants like Marigolds, Andrographis Paniculata, Indian Snakeroot, or West Indian Lemongrass. These plants are not toxic to dogs.
- Install snake fencing. A snake fence is one of the best and easiest ways to prevent and reduce snake bites around the home.
What do I do if I find a deadly snake?
Instead of looking for a big stick to kill it and put your life in danger, the best course of action is to contact the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW) on (08) 9219 9000 or (08) 9474 9055 for a free Snake Removal Service.
In conclusion, as a good pet owner, you should try as much as you can to keep your pet and family safe from these dangerous serpents. If you stay in areas where snakes and humans come in close contact, you should keep your eyes peeled for snakes wandering about especially around noon. When the temperatures reach about 56º or higher.
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