Snake Bites in Dogs
dog training

Snake Bites in Dogs

It is always a good idea to learn more about the snakes in your area and how their venom act. Different snakes have different venoms. The potency as well as the normal reactions to the venom will therefore differ greatly, and this can in turn affect the recommended treatment. This is not true only for snake bites in dogs, but for snake bites in humans as well.

A lot of the world’s snakes are not poisonous enough to seriously harm a dog, but there are also a large number of snakes that can cause lethal injury to a dog and snake bites in dogs should therefore always be taken seriously.

How severally affected a dog gets is not only determined by the strength of the venom and the amount injected. A small Chihuahua will for instance typically be much more harmed than a large Newfoundland, even if they receive the same amount of the same venom. The general health of your dog is also an important factor; an old dog suffering from heart problems may for instance typically be less equipped to handle a snake bite than a young, healthy dog with no prior medical conditions. Puppies are more sensitive than adult dogs of the same breed since their bodies are smaller.  

If you see your dog being bitten by a snake, try to get a good look at the snake (but be careful!). Snake bites in dogs, as well as in humans, are diagnosed based on the look and behaviour of the snake. The look of the bite itself can also provide valuable clues, but many venomous snakes leave quite similar bite marks and the veterinarian will therefore greatly appreciate a description of the snake. The behaviour of the bitten dog can hint to a certain species of snake, since different venoms cause different symptoms, but in many cases the symptoms are so general that it is impossible to guess which snake that may have caused it. 

If you know, or suspect, that your dog has been bitten by a snake you can follow this list of recommended first aid.

  • Restrain the dog. A bitten dog can become extremely restless and the pain can also cause it to act out. It is important for the health of the dog that it stays still instead of exhausting it self. 
  • Apply a flat tourniquet over the bite. If you do not know how to apply a tourniquet, it is safer to skip this stage since erroneously used tourniquets can cause more damage than the bite itself. A tourniquet is used to make it harder for venomous blood to spread throughout the body. It is very important not to restrict the blood flow completely. A tourniquet applied to treat snake bites in dogs must not be as tight as an arterial tourniquet. You should also keep in mind that by restricting the blood flow you make it harder for the body to dilute the venom, and the affect on the bitten limb can therefore be more severe than without a tourniquet.
  • Transport your dog to the veterinarian. It should ideally not walk itself, so if your dog is of a manageable size it is best to carry it.
  • You can use ice in a towel to relieve the pain around the bite marks.
  • If the transport to the veterinarian takes more than 30 minutes, you should loosen the tourniquet for half a minute every half hour.

Dog Bite Articles

Child Dog Bite - An article about what to do if your child get bitten by a dog.
Dog Bite Infection - An article about infections in dog bites.
Dog Bite Injury - An article about how to treat dog bite injuries.
Dog Bite Law - An article about the legal aspects of dog bites.
Dog Bite Lawyer - An article about dog bite lawyers and how to find one.
Insect Bite on Dog - An article about insect bites on dogs and how to treat them.
Why Dogs Bite - An article about why some dogs bite.