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What To Do If Your Dog Is Bitten By A Snake

I said it already but I'll say it again - my poor, beloved Kitsune is having a bit of a rough summer.  Luckily we seem to have gotten a handle on his seasonal allergies, they were worse this year than I think they've ever been before.  In late July he somehow managed to break his tail, which is why he's been sporting much shorter tail hair than what everyone is used to seeing.  Last week I took him to the beach and we had an awesome time together, but what I didn't share when I posted about our trip was that poor Kit got bitten by a snake!

We were walking on a bike path that leads from the beach to the street.  Both areas alongside the path are overgrown with plants.  Kit likes to walk a bit off the path where the plant growth is.  I imagine the smells and such are more interesting there then just walking on the bare path.  He stepped in an area with some overgrown grass to sniff at something when I saw him quickly pick his right rear leg up, and then a snake slithered out from the grass.

Luckily, it was just a garter snake which are, of course, non-venomous.  Even so, the bite was painful enough to cause Kit to limp a bit throughout the rest of the day.  He got bitten on his ankle area, right above his paw.  The area did swell a tiny bit and was obviously tender.  I gently washed it when we got home and basically just let Kit rest of the rest of the day.  By the time I took him out for his before bedtime walk he was putting weight on his leg normally again.

We were lucky that the snake that bit Kit wasn't venomous.  There are four main types of venomous snakes in the United States - Coral Snakes, Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, and Cottonmouth/Water Moccasins.  How your dog reacts to a snake bite will depend on many factors such as what kind of snake he/she was bitten by, the site of the bite, the age of the snake, etc.

Here are some steps to take if you know, or think, your dog has been bitten by a snake:

  1. Stay calm and try to safely identify the snake if possible.  Take a picture of the snake if you can do so quickly and safely.  If you don't know much about snakes, just try to remember as much about it as possible.
  2. If you know the snake in question is a venomous species, or you are unsure, get your dog to his/her vet for treatment.  It may take time for symptoms to develop if the snake was venomous, and the sooner you get your dog medical care the better.
  3. Some sites will recommend using a tourniquet after a bite by a venomous species, however most vets now seem to recommend you forgo spending time doing this yourself and just get your pet into a vet ASAP.
  4. Keep your dog as quiet and calm as possible.  This may help to slow down the rate at which venom is spread.
  5. If you need to travel to get to a vet and your dog is experiencing a lot of swelling benadryl may help.  If you don't know the dosage for your dog call your vet and tell them you're on your way, but ask how much benadryl is safe to give in the meantime.

For most snake bites, venomous or not, your vet will shave and clean the area.  Depending on the severity of the bite your vet may prescribe medications such as antihistamines, pain medications, and/or antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.  If the snake was venomous your dog will most likely require strict motoring.  Antivenom can be given if necessary.  Your dog may require additional medications and supportive care based on the severity of symptoms.

Luckily, as I'm a bit of a reptile enthusiast, I'm quite familiar with our local snakes.  I knew that the snake that bit Kit was non-venomous and opted to care for him at home.  His minor bite wound healed up fast and well, but I kept a close eye on it and would have taken him to the vet if he developed any signs of infection.

Hopefully my darling Kit makes it through the rest of the summer without anymore incidents!  Comment below, has your dog (or any of your other pets) ever been bitten by a snake?


26 thoughts on “What To Do If Your Dog Is Bitten By A Snake

  1. (Miss) Edie the Pug

    Oh my goodness, it sounds like Kit has been having quite the summer! When you said snake bite I had to read, because I just know I would panic! I think it's a great idea to take a photo of the snake, because to be honest, I don't know my snakes and at least the vet would know if I would have to be concerned. Thanks for the tips and I hope Kit's summer gets better!

    1. Michelle @ Paw Print Pet Blog

      Thank you! I think he's having a fun summer, despite his bad luck. You know how dogs are, he got bitten by the snake one day but was still super excited to go to the park again the next. I never really put much thought into what to do in this situation until it happened to us so I figured I'd pass on what we learned. Thanks so much for your comment!

  2. Debbie Bailey

    These are great tips! Especially the taking a picture of the snake part. That's a great way to help your vet identify what kind of snake it was and whether or not it is poisonous. Poor Kit. I'm glad in this case it was not a venemous snake. Sounds like he's having a summer a lot like my boy Ringo's. He has allergies, he lost a toe nail, got attacked by a whole lot of fire ants about a week ago, then we both got covered in cactus splinters on Monday, and yesterday I had to do the heimlich on him because he was choking and couldn't breathe. Hopefully Kit and Ringo's summers both get a bit less "interesting" from now on.

  3. DearMishu

    Wow thanks for the tips about snake bites, they are VERY helpful, only last week I saw one!

  4. Hindy Pearson

    Thanks for such great tips, because I wouldn't have a clue what to do other than rush the dog to the vet. We used to live in Florida and there were snakes in our garden sometimes, not good since I have a phobia. One day my husband called at work to tell me he noticed the cats were on the patio looking at something - turns out it was a snake. We had no idea what kind, poisonous or not, thankfully the cats were fine and my husband got it out of there before I got home.

  5. Luna C. Lupus

    This must have been such a scary experience! I honestly don't know how I would react in a situation like that and am so thankful that you wrote this post. In Slovenia we only have two venomous species of snakes and they are rare so I'm not too worried but it's always good to be prepared. Taking a picture of the snake is a great idea!

    1. Michelle @ Paw Print Pet Blog

      Thanks for your comment! That's one thing that's good about everyone having camera phones these days. I've heard people recommend trying to catch the snake so it can be identified, but a lot of people are afraid of snakes, and of course if it's venomous you don't want to risk someone else getting bitten too.

  6. Heather Wallace

    Poor baby! We live in a forested area and don't usually have venomous snakes- mostly garter or rat snakes. But I do tend to check the yard first because I often see other wildlife that I need to shoo away. Great advice for any snake bites, human or dog.

    1. Michelle @ Paw Print Pet Blog

      Thanks! I'm jealous, I wish we lived in a forested area. We're in the city but, go figure, still have to deal with wildlife here. We still have things like snakes and raccoons and there's a hawk at our local park that makes me particularly nervous as he seems quite interested in the smaller of my two dogs.

      1. Heather Wallace

        Oh yes, I lived in NYC and there was a lot of wildlife! My dogs are large so the owls and red hawks that live here mostly go after the smaller prey but we have a snapping turtle that comes every year to our yard to lay eggs. She's the real threat! Oh, and coyotes too.

  7. jana rade

    Stay calm - that's just about the hardest thing to do when there is something wrong with our babies. I hope I never have to find out how calm I'd manage to stay.

    1. Michelle @ Paw Print Pet Blog

      Right! Staying calm is easier said than done when something is wrong with a beloved pet. I'm generally able to keep myself calm during an emergency but am the type of person who will break down afterwards. All the stress gets to me but I'm usually able to get done whatever needs to be done before I freak out.

  8. Sweet Purrfections

    Very happy to hear Kit is okay and the snake wasn't venomous. We have 3 of the 4 poisonous snakes in SC (all except the Coral). I hate to admit it, but I have a huge fear of snakes.

    1. Michelle @ Paw Print Pet Blog

      A lot of people do! I love reptiles, but I get it. Where I am we have two native venomous snakes but I have to admit that I've never seen the venomous species in the wild. Most of the species here are pretty harmless, although, as Kit proved, getting bitten by them still isn't any fun.

  9. Pip

    Poor Kit! So glad he was OK. We live in a fairly urban area and there aren't many snakes around. However, last week we were traveling out west with Ruby and I was so worried about snakes. Fortunately, we didn't see any and stayed safe, but I definitely worried about it.

    1. Michelle @ Paw Print Pet Blog

      Thank you! 🙂 The funny thing is that we live in a very urban area too. It's surprising sometimes just how many types of wild animals you can run into in the city. The beach we go to all the time is in the city we live in, although it's a lot less urban than the rest of the area that surrounds it.

  10. Amy Hempe

    Poor pup! Some neighbors in the 'burbs have been finding snakes in their yards. Occasionally on the news i'll hear about a rattlesnake in a front yard. The option of never going outside ever again isn't really feasible, so preparation is the next logical course of action. Ugh. Me & Indiana Jones share the same feelings here. But this is just one of those things we can't be surprised about, especially in the mountains.

  11. Kia

    Aw, so sorry he got bit! Glad everything turned out fine. This is such a timely post as we saw a snake in our backyard recently, but thankfully Simba wasn't outside at the time. I will be pinning this!

  12. Clare Reece-Glore

    Well done article! The tips are excellent. I like snakes too and so cool to see someone use the "venomous" term correctly.

  13. Shayla Oliver

    Great tips! We have a couple snake avoidance classes here, but it's always good to be prepared! Sometimes they are sneaky!

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