My Dog Got Bit By a Snake

By Anaƫlle Laurent. April 10, 2020
My Dog Got Bit By a Snake

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Dogs are very curious animals, when we take them out on walks they want to discover their environment. Depending where you live, it's not uncommon for dogs to find themselves with a snake. Since snakes are cold blooded animals, they can adapt to almost any type of climate. If your dog gets bit by a snake that happens to be venomous, this wound may be fatal.

In this AnimalWised article we are going to help you know what to do when your dog gets bit by a snake. We'll help you identify whether it was a venomous snake or not and how to help your dog until you can bring them to a veterinarian.

How to differentiate venomous and non-venomous snakes

When a dog finds themselves with a snake, their instinct will be either to catch it or hunt it down. The snake will defend themselves by attacking your dog. They will try to aim for your dog's neck or face, however in the commotion, they may miss and bite your dog's foot.

In order to know the severity of the wound, we must first know whether the snake is venomous or not. This may be hard to do as they move very quickly.


  • Slimmer head
  • Rounded snout, rounded eyes (these are harder to detect from far away)
  • Common in the USA: worm snake, black racer, indigo snake, mud snake.


  • Larger snakes (all in the USA, except that red-black-yellow coral, are fat pit vipers)
  • Common in the USA: rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, coral snakes.
My Dog Got Bit By a Snake - How to differentiate venomous and non-venomous snakes

Dog symptoms from a snake bite

Many people ask themselves, how do I know if my dog got bit by a snake? If you haven't seen the attack, you will figure it out once you see your dog's symptoms. Observing our dog's symptoms can also help us identify whether they were bitten by a venomous snake or not. It should be noted that, whether they were bitten by a non-venomous or venomous snake, the most important thing to do is take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible as this bite can be fatal.

Symptoms of a non-venomous snake bite in dogs:

  • The bite is shaped like a "U".
  • The dog shows no serious signs of pain, even if we touch the area.
  • Minor bite.
  • Non-venomous snakes are generally diurnal.

Symptoms of a venomous snake bite in dogs:

  • The bite shows the sign of two fangs.
  • The dog shows acute pain, especially if we touch the wound.
  • Fluid accumulation in the wound, forming oedema.
  • Capillary injuries due to broken capillaries.
  • Wound may be bleeding.
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and tachycardia.
  • The dog does not accept food or drink and prefers to lie down.
  • The area begins to freeze and lose sensitivity.
  • Venomous snakes are generally nocturnal.

How to treat a snake bite in dogs

What to do when a non-venomous snake bites your dog:

  1. Contact your trusted vet to explain your what happened and schedule a check-up.
  2. Shave the hair off the bitten area.
  3. Clean the wound with soap and water gently.
  4. Cover the wound with a gauze and tape it.
  5. Observe the symptoms that the dog shows for 3 or 4 hours.

The next thing you should do is go to the vet, who will probably prescribe antibiotics. In some cases, they may also need to give your dog the tetanus vaccine.

What to do when a venomous snake bites your dog:

  1. Allow your dog to lie down and rest. They're in pain.
  2. Contact your veterinarian and explain the situation to know what steps to take.
  3. Shave the hair off the bitten area.
  4. Clean the wound with soap and water.
  5. Avoid offering them water or medication of any kind. Do only as your veterinarian has told you.
  6. Finally, go to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

As we've previously stated, a venomous snake bite can be fatal. We recommend making a tourniquet only if you are far away from your veterinarian. However, if the dog has been bitten in an area that is not an extremity, you cannot do it. This works best when the wound is on their paw or leg.

How to apply a tourniquet for dogs:

  1. Cover the wound lightly with clean gauze.
  2. Wrap a strip of cloth or gauze tightly between the wound and the rest of the body, as seen in the picture below. Never use string or rope, as it will cut the underlying skin.
  3. Tie a knot and put a strong stick in the loop of the knot. Tie another knot on top of the one holding the stick.
  4. Twist slowly until the bleeding slows.
  5. Then, secure the stick by tying or taping it.
  6. Release and re-tighten the tourniquet every 10 minutes to allow some circulation.
  7. Take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.
My Dog Got Bit By a Snake - How to treat a snake bite in dogs

How to prevent snake bites in dogs

Lastly, we'd like to give you some tips on how to prevent snake bites in dogs. Follow these tips next time you go out walking or hiking with your dog so you can make sure that both you and your dog are safe:

  • Stay away from tall grass and piles of leaves when possible.
  • Avoid climbing on rocks or piles of wood where snakes tend to hide.
  • Be aware that snakes tend to be active at night.
  • Make sure your dog doesn't try to handle the snake.

Having your dog trained to do basic dog commands can be very useful in dangerous situations such as this one. Learn more on dog training in our article Best Techniques For Dog Training and Dog Training Guide.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Got Bit By a Snake, we recommend you visit our First aid category.

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