What to do If Your Dog is bitten by a Snake

Australia has more venomous snakes than non-venomous – in fact we are the only country on Earth with this ratio. In 2016, 6,500 pets were bitten by snakes in Australia, which is up from previous years as urban areas continue to sprawl out, overlapping snake habitats. Knowing what do to if your dog is bitten by a snake is extremely important, especially since there is a good chance that whatever bit her is dangerous.

First, it’s important to note that the season (time of year) doesn’t matter. For example, the Tiger Snake and the Copperhead thrive in colder climates. Snake bites occur year-round.

When a snake bites a dog – or any animal – the venom enters through the fangs into tissue below the skin. There it is quickly transferred through the lymphatic system and into the circulation system. Affects are widely varied depending on the snake, but some of the common affects are:

* Organ damage

* lethargy

* Paralysis

* Trouble breathing

* Coma

* Loss of bladder/bowel control

* Vomiting

* And more

Death can occur quickly.

Of course not all snake are poisonous. Bites from a poisonous snake will be extremely painful at the site and your dog may have trouble with walking or dilated pupils as well as any number of the above symptoms. Or, your dog may have other, unlisted symptoms. It all depends on the snake, how much venom was transferred and on your dog’s age, size, health, etc. A bigger dog may take longer to show symptoms because its circulatory system is larger.

Do’s and Don’ts if Your Dog gets a Snake Bite

* DO try and keep your dog still and calm. Walking around circulates the blood more, which circulates the venom quicker.

* DO try and take a picture of the snake if you can do so safely.

* DO take your dog to the nearest vet ASAP. Even if you think it wasn’t a poisonous snake and even if you think your dog is acting fine. Just in case.

* DO call a snake catcher and let them know you have a snake in your yard/home.

* DON’T try to kill or trap the snake. It’s illegal in Australia and both you and your dog may get bit.

* DON’T try to guess the type of snake and tell your vet that is what it was. It’s best to let the experts to their job and treat the bite by its symptoms, not by what you think you saw. If you ID’d the snake wrong, it could cost your dog its life.

* DON’T wash the wound.

* DON’T apply ice.

* DON’T apply a topical ointment.

* DON’T apply a tourniquet to stop the bleeding or the poison from spreading.

* DON’T try to suck the poison out yourself.

The biggest thing is to get your dog to a vet, any vet, as soon as possible. They are the only ones who can save your dog. Little dogs are affected quicker, as are puppies and seniors, so they are going to be more of an emergency. Follow these tips to give your dog the best chance at survival if she should be bitten by a snake.

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9 Comments

  1. Hi thanks for the snake info it was very helpful.
    I take my 2 Standard Poodles walking/running in a bush area.
    Realistically if one gets bitten by a snake out there, there’s not much I can do. Just keep them calm and hope it was not a poisonous snake.
    They love the scents and running flat out in the bush, I’m loathed to not go in the bush because they may get bitten.
    That’s the choice I make, in summer when it’s more likely snakes are active, we go much less as it’s too hot for the dogs.
    As you say snake bites can occur at any time the year.
    I was just thinking I could get bitten too!

    1. Hi Jasmine, its your choice what you do with your dogs. Even very hot weather is not a good time to go out with dogs as they can overheat easier than we can. And yes we can get bit too… guess its just what we Aussies have to contend with. :-)

  2. Re: tourniquet, does that include bandaging the full limb as we humans do as per first aid for snakebite?.
    On another subject “Food” when I received your free sample Toby seemed to treat them as treats and couldn’t wait for mealtime, I received the large bag and for a week or so seemed to enjoy them. Now its a struggle to get him to eat, he went two days without food and last night I relented and mixed in some Tuna with water drained and he ate with no problem.
    Q: How would you have handled the situation.
    Kind regards
    John

  3. thanks for your post about snakes,it is very helpful ,love the Bernise mountain dog used to have one they are great dogs.
    valda mc kenzie

  4. What To Do If Your Dog Is Bitten By A Snake

    Our small Jack Russell was bitten by a Tiger Snake in December. She is so quick and I could not stop her from attacking the snake.

    Off to the vet she went , then spent 2 days in the Animal Hospital in Werribee and $2,700 later Kal-el is fine again and not allowed out the back part of the house.

    Your advice is spot on. It was worth every cent to get our puppy back,

    Yes she did kill the snake.

  5. We travel a bit, and I am going to photocopy this and put in van..
    We were told by a bushie to pour water over the area because the dog will lick the sight, and ingest the venom as well. I am a bit confused now because this sounds feasible,
    Thank you for the information. Gail

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