What happens if your dog eats a snake?
While it might seem far-fetched, our adventurous four-legged friends sometimes find themselves in sticky situations involving the wilder side of nature. And yes, this could include an encounter with a snake.
This guide will get right into the most important factors owners must consider right away if their dog eats a snake. This article covers everything.
Of course, if your dog is having an instant bad reaction or you have knowledge that the snake was in fact poisonous, waste no more time and bring your dog an emergency veterinary center.
➡️ Snake, location, toxicity, commonness table
➡️ Your Dog Ate a Snake: What Happens Next
➡️ 10 Most Venomous Snakes For Dogs
➡️ 7 Non-Venomous, Yet Common Snakes to Know
Snake, Venom Toxicity, Location, Commonness
This helpful table lists the top 10 most venomous snakes for dogs compared to their location, commonness and toxicity levels.
|Snake||Average Venom Toxicity||Geographical Location||Commonness|
|Eastern Brown Snake||Very High||Australia||Very Common|
|Inland Taipan||Extremely High||Central East Australia||Rare|
|Mainland Tiger Snake||High||Australia||Common|
|Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake||High||Southeastern United States||Common|
|Mojave Rattlesnake||Very High||Southwestern United States, Central Mexico||Fairly Common|
|Death Adder||Very High||Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia||Common in appropriate habitats|
|Black Mamba||Extremely High||Africa||Common in appropriate habitats|
|Many-Banded Krait||Very High||East and Southeast Asia||Common in appropriate habitats|
|Russell’s Viper||High||Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Southern China, Taiwan||Common|
|Common Indian Krait||Very High||Indian Subcontinent||Common|
⭐ Key note: It’s important to note that while some snakes like the Inland Taipan have incredibly potent venom, encounters with humans (and pets) are rare due to their remote habitats. Meanwhile, snakes like the Eastern Brown Snake or the Russell’s Viper, might be more of a concern due to their commonness in populated areas, even if their venom is technically less potent.
Also remember that any snake bite to a pet should be treated as a medical emergency, regardless of the snake’s identity.
➡️ Note worthy: In general, there are far more venomous and dangerous snakes in areas like Australia, India, and Asia, than there are in the Americas. Less venomous snakes are listed further below.
Your Dog Ate a Snake: What To Consider Next
Let’s run through 12 things owners must know/do next after their dog has eaten a snake. Of course, if you already have knowledge that the snake was venomous, or your dog is visibly reacting, take them to a veterinary help center immediately.
1. Initial Reactions and Dangers
The first thing to understand is that not all snakes are created equal. There are both venomous and non-venomous snakes out there. The type of snake your dog may encounter can greatly affect what happens next.
➡️ Non-venomous snake:
If your dog eats a non-venomous snake, it’s still possible for them to experience minor issues, mainly due to the snake’s potential bacterial load or any parasites it might carry. These could lead to digestive upset, like vomiting or diarrhea. However, the major concern arises if the snake in question is venomous.
➡️ Venomous snake:
If your dog eats or even just bites a venomous snake, they could be exposed to potentially lethal venom. The venom could cause pain, swelling, and serious health problems. In such cases, the situation becomes a medical emergency.
2. Identifying a Snake Bite
You may not always witness your dog’s encounter with a snake, so it’s important to know the signs of a snake bite.
➡️ These might include:
- Swelling, typically around the face or neck if that’s where your dog was bitten.
- Puncture wounds, often appearing in pairs.
- Severe pain at the wound site.
- Restlessness, whimpering, or other signs of distress.
- Labored breathing.
- Excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat.
If your dog displays any of these symptoms and you suspect a snake bite, it’s crucial to get to a vet immediately.
3. How to Respond
If you know or suspect your dog has eaten a snake, here’s what you should do:
Don’t Panic: It’s essential to stay calm so you can effectively help your pet.
Check for Signs: Look for physical signs like those mentioned above if you suspect a venomous snake.
Get to the Vet: Regardless of the type of snake, it’s best to get your dog to the vet ASAP. This is especially urgent if you suspect a venomous snake, but even with a non-venomous one, your dog may still need treatment for potential parasites or bacteria.
Don’t Try to Treat It Yourself: Home remedies or attempting to suck out the venom are not effective and can even cause harm. Let the professionals handle this situation.
My Dog Ate a Frog! What Happens Next
4. Preventive Measures
Prevention is better than cure, right? Here are some tips to reduce the chance of your dog having an encounter with a snake:
- Keep your yard clean and clutter-free to discourage snakes from taking up residence.
- When walking your dog, keep them on a leash and stick to open paths where you can see any potential dangers.
- Train your dog to leave snakes alone. There are professional snake avoidance training classes available in many areas.
- Always supervise your dog while they are outside, especially if you live in an area known for snake sightings.
- Be aware of the seasons and times of day when snakes are most active. They’re generally more active in the warmer months and during early morning and late afternoon times.
- Consider a rattlesnake vaccine if you live in an area with a high rattlesnake population. It can help to slow the effects of a bite, giving you extra time to get to a vet. However, it doesn’t replace emergency vet care.
5. Post-Snake Encounter Care
Once your dog has had a snake encounter and received the necessary vet care, it’s important to monitor them closely for any changes in behavior or health, and follow your vet’s aftercare instructions diligently.
If the snake was venomous and your dog required anti-venom, they might need additional rest and care. Ensure your dog is comfortable and try to keep them calm to avoid raising their heart rate, which could spread any remaining venom in their system more quickly.
Your vet might prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection, especially if the snake was eaten and might have introduced bacteria into your dog’s digestive system. Be sure to give your dog any prescribed medication as directed.
6. Psychological Effects
While the physical health of your dog is paramount, don’t overlook the potential psychological impact. A traumatic experience like a snake encounter could leave your dog feeling anxious or fearful. They might exhibit signs of stress, like changes in appetite, disrupted sleep, or abnormal behavior.
Give your dog lots of love and reassurance. If you notice prolonged signs of stress, consider seeking advice from a professional dog behaviorist.
7. Understand the Local Snake Species
If you live in an area where snakes are common, it’s helpful to know which species are prevalent. Are they mostly venomous or non-venomous? Your local wildlife service or a quick internet search can provide useful information. Understanding the local snake population can help you gauge the level of risk for your dog.
8. Venomous Snake Bites and Symptoms
Each venomous snake species can cause different symptoms. For instance, a rattlesnake bite often leads to drooling, difficulty breathing, and neurological issues. A coral snake bite, on the other hand, may cause neurological problems like shaking or tremors, and difficulty with movement.
Knowing the species can help inform you of the symptoms to look out for and inform your vet, which can facilitate quicker treatment.
9. Consider Pet Insurance
Medical treatment for snake bites can be expensive, especially if the snake was venomous. The cost of anti-venom, hospitalization, and follow-up care can add up. Pet insurance could potentially help offset some of these costs. It’s worth looking into if you live in a high-risk area.
10. Vet Follow-ups
Even after your dog seems to have recovered from a snake encounter, it’s a good idea to schedule follow-up visits with your vet. They can monitor your dog’s recovery and detect any potential long-term effects of the incident.
11. First Aid Training for Pet Owners
As a pet owner, it might be useful to have some training in pet first aid. Many organizations offer courses specifically tailored to pets, including how to deal with emergencies like snake bites. It can be a valuable skill, giving you more confidence and control during a stressful situation.
12. Dog Safety Gear
If you and your furry friend love exploring the outdoors, consider investing in some dog safety gear. Snake-proof boots or gaiters, and snake avoidance collars, can add an extra layer of protection during your adventures.
By equipping yourself with this additional information, you’ll be even better prepared to protect your dog from potential snake encounters. Remember, your vet is your best resource for any concerns or questions you have about your pet’s health. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them if you need help.
10 Most Venomous Snakes for Dogs
While the effects of snake venom can vary depending on the size, breed, and health condition of the dog, the following snakes are generally recognized as having venom that is particularly dangerous to dogs:
- Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis): Found in Australia, this snake is highly venomous and is considered a great risk to pets due to its common encounters in urban and suburban environments.
- Inland Taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus): Also known as the western taipan, this snake has the most toxic venom of any snake worldwide. It’s native to central east Australia.
- Mainland Tiger Snake (Notechis scutatus): This Australian snake’s venom contains a potent mixture of neurotoxins, coagulants, haemolysins and myotoxins.
- Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus): This is the largest venomous snake in North America, and its venom can be fatal to dogs.
- Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus): Found in the deserts of the southwestern United States and central Mexico, this snake’s venom is considered to be the most potent of all rattlesnake venoms.
- Death Adder (Acanthophis): Native to Australia, New Guinea and Indonesia, this snake’s venom contains highly toxic neurotoxin.
- Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis): Found in parts of Africa, the black mamba’s venom is highly toxic.
- Many-Banded Krait (Bungarus multicinctus): This snake is found in much of East and Southeast Asia, and its venom is extremely toxic.
- Russell’s Viper (Daboia russelii): Located in Asia throughout the Indian subcontinent, much of Southeast Asia, southern China and Taiwan, its venom can cause a variety of serious symptoms.
- Common Indian Krait (Bungarus caeruleus): Found on the Indian subcontinent, the venom of this snake is highly toxic.
7 Snakes Less Harmful for Dogs, Yet Still Common
There are several species of snakes that are common, non-venomous, and pose less risk to dogs.
Here are seven examples:
- Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis): These snakes are common across North America. They are harmless to dogs and humans, although they may release a foul-smelling musk if threatened.
- Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus): Found in the southeastern United States, these snakes are often mistaken for the venomous copperhead. However, corn snakes are non-venomous and are often kept as pets due to their docile nature.
- Eastern Rat Snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis): These large non-venomous snakes are found throughout the eastern United States and are great at controlling rodent populations.
- Ball Python (Python regius): Native to sub-Saharan Africa, these snakes are commonly kept as pets and are known for their docile nature.
- Rosy Boa (Lichanura trivirgata): These small boas are found in the southwestern United States and Mexico. They are non-venomous and generally pose no threat to dogs.
- King Snake (Lampropeltis getula): King snakes are found in the United States and Mexico. They are non-venomous, and interestingly, are known to eat other snakes, including venomous ones.
- Common Boa (Boa constrictor): Native to Central and South America, these snakes are non-venomous and are known for their size and strength. They are often kept as pets due to their relatively calm demeanor.
While these snakes are generally harmless, any snake can bite if it feels threatened, and some dogs may have allergic reactions to snake bites even if the snake is non-venomous.
In the end, while it might be a disturbing thought, a dog eating a snake isn’t a death sentence. It does, however, require immediate attention and swift action on your part. Remember that prevention is the best course of action, so take the necessary measures to reduce the chance of your dog encountering a snake. Should the situation arise despite your best efforts, stay calm, act fast, and always consult with a vet.
Your four-legged buddy depends on you to help navigate the world safely. By understanding the potential dangers of snake encounters and knowing what to do if one occurs, you’re well-prepared to keep your pup safe and sound!
Remember, when in doubt, always contact a professional veterinarian. Their expertise is invaluable when it comes to the health and safety of your pet. Let’s keep our furry friends safe, happy, and healthy!