Snake bites on dogs can become quite serious, and dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors playing in bushes or wooded areas are especially prone to attacks. Dogs are naturally curious and unfortunately will not back down if they encounter a snake. If they get bitten, it is essential to seek veterinary attention right away as some snakes can be venomous.
Recognizing Venomous Snakes
First of all, whether your pet is bitten by a venomous or nonvenomous snake, you should always seek veterinary treatment. Nevertheless, it is highly important for you to be able to recognize snakes that are venomous. There are two categories of venomous snakes, and they are elapids and crotalids.
- Crotalids – These snakes are grouped in the pit viper family and include water moccasins (cottonmouths), rattlesnakes and copperheads. They are known for their cat-like eyes, heavy bodies and triangle-shaped heads. You will find crotalids most anywhere in North America.
- Elapids – While elapids are the most dangerous venomous snakes, the only elapid known in North America is the coral snake. These snakes have black, red, white or yellow bands and are most often found in southern states such as North Carolina and South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana and Georgia.
Symptoms of Snake Bites in Dogs
Before moving on, it is important to note that not all snakes are poisonous and of those that are, only about 25 percent of them are venomous. However, it can be difficult to determine whether or not the snake that bit your dog was venomous. As such, it is always best to seek treatment from your veterinarian if your pet displays any of the following symptoms.
- One or Two Tiny, Bleeding Puncture Wounds
- Moderate to Severe Pain Around the Wounds
- Moderate to Severe Swelling Around the Snake Bite
- Skin Discoloration
- Extreme Restlessness
- Panting and/or Drooling
- Vomiting and/or Diarrhea
- Loss of Balance
- Respiratory Problems
Treatments for Snake Bites on Dogs
Fortunately, if your dog gets bitten by a snake, the odds are in favor of a full recovery. If you can identify the snake and you are 100 percent positive it is not venomous, you can clean and dress the wound before going to the vet. However, if you cannot identify the snake, do not clean the wound as water can encourage the venom to spread.
In this case, wrap the wound to stop any bleeding and go to the nearest veterinary hospital or clinic. Since excitement can increase venom’s absorption rate, try to keep your pet calm. If possible, it is also best for you to carry your dog rather than allow it to walk. Do not apply ice to the wounds, attempt to suck out the venom or make any cuts over the bite marks.
Treatment involves neutralizing the effects of venom and stabilizing the respiratory and circulatory systems through the use of such things as intravenous fluids, antihistamines, antivenin and hospitalization. The sooner that antivenin is administered, the better the results. Depending on your dog’s condition, treatment may include anywhere from two to ten vials of antivenin.
Preventing Snake Bites in Dogs
Due to the curious nature of our four-legged friends, snakes and dogs simply do not mix. Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to prevent your pet from getting bitten by a snake. First of all, keep night walks to a minimum and when you are walking your pet, keep it on a leash. Do not allow it to play in bushes or thickly wooded areas.
Keep your dog away from small holes in the ground, flat rocks and old logs as well. When walking in wooded areas, stick close to open paths. If you hear a rattle sound or your dog seems curious about “something” hidden in the brush, back off immediately. When you follow these valuable tips, you will be sure that you and your pet can avoid any snake bites.