Saturday, September 23, 2023


Dogs and Snakebites: What to do if your dog gets bitten by a snake

By Cheri Sicard
Snake season is upon us, so it is always a good idea to be prepared for any unwanted encounters just in case. In the video below, Dr. Gary Richter goes over some basic guidelines concerning dogs and snake bites along with what to do if your dog gets bitten by a snake.

Dr. Richter’s goal with the video was to put together a quick “need-to-know survival guide” with essential information about dogs and snake bites to help keep animals safe and help pet owners deal with what can be an extremely stressful situation. The information is crucial to keep in mind any time you take your dog(s) to an area where snakes are common. And that is a whole lot of places across the U.S. and Canada (not to mention the rest of the world).

What to do if your dog is bitten by a snake

Seeing your dog get bitten by a snake is one of the scariest things that can happen on a walk. But as long as they get medical attention as quickly as possible, most dogs can make a full recovery.

Every snake bite should get immediate (or as soon as humanly possible) attention from a veterinarian. Even nonvenomous snakebites should be treated as they can get infected and lead to complications.

Especially in the case of a venomous bite, your number one priority needs to be getting your dog to a vet as quickly as possible. Call the vet along the way if you can and let them know you are coming in.

Here’s what else you should (and should not) do:

  • Difficult as it may be, try to stay calm.
  • Try to calm your dog down too. Speak slowly, pet their head, and hold them close. Relaxing the dog slows down their blood flow which slows the spread of venom in their body.
  • For the same reason, pick up and carry your dog if possible. It may not always be possible, but this is ideal.
  • Do NOT try to suck out the venom as portrayed in movies and TV; it does not work that way. (Don’t do this for humans either! More on that here.)
  • Do NOT try to cut off circulation to the bitten area with a tourniquet. Doing so can cause tissue damage and impede your dog’s natural blood clotting mechanism. In the worst case scenario it could even endanger their leg.

Snake bite symptoms in dogs

Nonvenomous snake bite symptoms in dogs:

  • Swelling, bruising, or bleeding around the bite area
  • Pain
  • Limping
  • Fatigue

Venomous snake bite symptoms in dogs:

  • Shaking or tremors
  • Drooling
  • Short shallow breaths
  • Discoloration or bleeding at the bite site
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in urine
  • Dilated pupils
  • Muscle contractions
  • Collapse
  • Paralysis
  • Severe swelling in the area of the bite

Again, the most important thing you can do with any snake bite is to get your dog to the vet!



  1. A few years back I had a blue heeler that was bitten by copperheads four different times. He never went to a vet and survived each occurrence with no lasting side effects. The area would swell up like a grapefruit with a mushy fluid like consistency. After a week to 10 days the swelling would disappear. I believe his body would isolate the venom in the swollen area allowing it to dissipate slowly.

  2. In addition, your Vet has a ONCE A YEAR Vaccine for Rattlesnake EXCEPT UNDERSTAND CLEARLY, this only slows down the process and doesn’t stop the venom. It gives you a bit more time to get to a Vet. Especially when you’re not in town. ALWAYS GO TO THE VET AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee, SAD!
    Recommendation: wherever you are, please seek out a Veterinary Clinic close to your RV while traveling each time.

  3. I can recognize a rattle snake and water moccasin but am woefully unable to determine if a snake is venomous or not beyond that. I know the signs are given in the article, but if unknown, how important is it to capture/kill/photograph the snake for the vet’s information?

    • Great question. If possible without endangering you & pup – take picture. Be FAST! That’s what I was told. If you can kill the snake all the more power to you! BE FAST you need those precious moments for your pup’s hopeful survival. VERIFY with a Veterinary Clinic for peace of mind.

      • Unless there is a reason to kill the snake I would leave him be, but a pic if you can safely get it is good, but speed and safety have to be top priorities.


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