Snake Bite Safety and Prevention for your Pets

Medically Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on September 09, 2023
3 min read

If you frequently take your pet outside, be wary of places where your pet may encounter a snake bite. Snakes can catch people (and pets) by surprise. Snakes seek out warm places to go and can often be found in places like forests, swamps, grasslands, or in your yard. 

Most snakes are harmless to people and pets. If you see a snake cross your path, it’s best to leave it alone and let it pass. Nonvenomous snakes will likely continue on their own, never to be seen again. 

Venomous snakes, on the other hand, can be dangerous. An encounter with them should be handled carefully. What you should do if you notice a venomous snake varies state to state, but possible action could include contacting your local animal control, police department, or fire station, or contacting a local private wildlife removal company. If you notice a venomous snake, do some research about how you can get help removing the snake safely. 

To keep your property safe from snakes there are a few things you can do:

  • Check the foundation of the house for unsealed areas where pipes may be going in and out of the home.
  • Check for basement doors or windows that don’t seal properly.
  • Look for any openings in your home at ground level and seal them if possible.
  • Check your porch, steps, and the area where your deck connects to your home.
  • Remove piles of rocks, wood, or other debris.
  • Cut long grass and undergrowth.
  • Repair storage sheds with cracks or openings near the ground. 

What should you do if your dog is bitten by a snake? Dogs are naturally curious creatures, and if they come across a snake their natural instinct will be to sniff around and investigate. If a snake feels threatened by the dog, it will likely bite. If your dog is bitten by a snake, here are a few important steps to follow:

  • Stay calm.
  • Try to identify if it’s a venomous or nonvenomous snake. (Perhaps take a picture with your phone to help identify it.)
  • Inspect your dog. If the snake bite was venomous, you’ll see significant swelling in the area where the dog was bitten.
  • Determine whether emergency care is needed. If your dog is having difficulty breathing or has collapsed, get them to an emergency pet clinic right away.
  • Whether or not you seek emergency medical care, always contact your veterinarian. They will be able to talk you through the situation and tell you what to do next.

Dogs may react to a snake bite right away, or it may take up to 24 hours for symptoms to appear. Common symptoms of a snake bite on a dog include:

  • Sudden weakness and possible collapse
  • Swollen area 
  • Puncture wounds 
  • Bleeding or bruising 
  • Trembling, twitching, and shaking
  • Dilated pupils
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody urine
  • Paralysis (when they can't move their body)

Different dogs may have different reactions to a snake bite depending on where they bitten and what type of snake bit them. A veterinarian can help determine which treatment options can help.

The veterinarian will begin by giving your dog a physical exam and determine if and where your pet was bitten. The type of treatment provided to your dog will vary depending on the circumstances. 

Some of the most common treatments for snake bites on dogs include:

  • Clipping and cleaning bite wounds 
  • Antibiotics if there’s a large amount of tissue injury  
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids — to help them hydrate and recover 
  • Special fluids (colloids) — to help with hypotension
  • Pain medications like opioids 
  • Antivenom — to neutralize the snake venom in the dog’s body 
  • Supplemental oxygen — to help if the dog is having trouble breathing on its own
  • Vaccine — talk to the vet about a possible snake bite vaccine. 
  • Steroids or anti-inflammatory drugs — only used in some cases 

Can a dog survive a snake bite? About 80% of dogs can survive a snake bite if it’s treated right away. If left untreated, dogs are less likely to recover.