Jump to section

What is Snake Bite?

There are 25 types of poisonous snakes in North America. They can be found all over the continent, and the danger they pose is very real. Though not all snakes have a deadly venom, a snake bite will still cause discomfort and stress for your pet. In the case of venomous snakes, time is of the essence in regards to life-saving treatment. Do not attempt any life-saving measures on your own; bring your dog to the veterinary clinic immediately.

Snake bite in dogs is known as envenomation in veterinary terms. Snakes are prevalent in warmer months, and though they generally keep to themselves, snake bites do occur. If you witness or suspect that your dog has been bitten, do not delay in taking him to the veterinarian.

Capstar Flea Tablets for Dogs

wagwalking.com

Shop now
advertisement image

Snake Bite Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$8,000

Symptoms of Snake Bite in Dogs

The symptoms of snake bite may appear within 1 hour to 24 hours after the incident occurs, but it is very important to note that the effects of the snake bite on your dog’s system begin to take effect immediately.

  • Non-venomous snake
    • Swelling or bruising around the bite
    • Possible visible puncture wounds
    • Bleeding from the wound
    • Pain and infection may occur after a time
  • Venomous snake
    • Shaking and tremors
    • Excessive salivation (ptyalism)
    • Rapid, shallow breathing
    • Obvious tissue damage, discoloration and bleeding from wound site
    • Vomiting
    • Blood in urine
    • Incontinence
    • Altered mental status
    • Dilated pupil
    • Muscle contractions
    • Loss of bodily movements (ataxia)
    • Limb weakness (tetraparesis)
    • Collapse
    • Paralysis
Types
  • Non-venomous
    • This type of snake usually constricts their prey
    • Types are garter snake (most common non-venomous of NA), boas, pythons, kingsnakes and many more
  • Venomous: 

    the most common species of venomous snake are classified below.

    • Elapidae
      • The coral snake is the most common of this family
      • These snakes are generally found in the southern edges of the continent
      • They have short fangs that paralyze the respiratory system with a neurotoxic venom
      • The coral snake is small, with red, yellow and black rings
      • Other non-indigenous members of the Elapidae family are being introduced to NA through zoos and private collectors
    • Crotalids
      • Rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and copperheads are populous in NA
      • They have long, hinged fangs
      • The effects of their venom can be hemotoxic (destroy red blood cells), anticoagulant (disrupt blood clotting), and necrotizing (cause organ degeneration and tissue damage)
      • Some species, such as the rattlesnake, also have neurotoxic effects

    </ul>

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    Causes of Snake Bite in Dogs

    The complications your pet will experience from a snake bite range from minimal (as in a non-venomous bite, unless infection sets in) to extremely dangerous, as listed below in reference to a venomous bite.

    • The reaction to the bite will vary on the species of the snake and the toxicity of the venom
    • The size and maturity of the snake will affect the amount of venom
    • The site of the bite is a factor (for example a bite on the chest or abdomen will mean the venom enters the body closer to the heart and makes it way through the body more quickly)
    • Thus, bites to the head or extremities cause less mortality
    • In early summer, snakes may have more venom in their fangs
    • If the last bite was some time ago, the venom may be more in quantity
    • Venomous bites can cause blood vessel and tissue damage, organ damage, low blood pressure, lactic acidemia (disturbance of PH in blood)
    • There can be destruction of red blood cells
    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    Diagnosis of Snake Bite in Dogs

    If you suspect that your canine family member has been bitten by a snake, do not delay in rushing him to the veterinary emergency clinic. Please remember to try and remain calm. You don’t want your dog to sense your panic because he needs to be kept as quiet as possible while in transit to the clinic. Do not allow him to walk; carry him to your vehicle and try to assure him with your voice and actions.

    Do not attempt any home remedies like ice packs or tourniquets; you may think you are helping, when in fact, you are just delaying getting your beloved pet the help he needs.

    If possible, carefully bring the dead snake with you, or take a picture of the snake with your cellular phone to show the veterinarian, and assist in the diagnosis. Based on the information you provide, and the clinical signs, your veterinarian will determine the best therapy.

    Some veterinarians may choose to use a snake venom detection kit as part of the diagnosis.

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    Treatment of Snake Bite in Dogs

    • Non-venomous bite treatment
      • The wound will be cleaned thoroughly. Your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and antihistamines as required.
    • Venomous bite treatment
      • If the veterinarian has determined that your dog requires antivenom, it will be administered, along with locating, marking and cleaning the bite. The remaining course of treatment will depend upon the severity of the bite, and the type of snake who caused the condition.

    Options and observations may include the following.

    • Antivenom is most effective when given within 6 hours of a snake bite
    • If the bite is severe, oxygen support, corticosteroids and intravenous fluids will be given to control shock and protect against tissue damage
    • Anticonvulsants, antibiotics, antihistamines, pain control and anti-inflammatories are usually needed as well
    • Your pet will need close observation for up to 48 hours as sometimes the full signs and effects of the envenomation do not appear right away
    • A mild case of snake bite could clear up in a few days
    • A serious case with many complications could mean a lengthy hospital stay and a recovery period of several weeks
    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    Recovery of Snake Bite in Dogs

    Studies show that the prognosis of recovery is more guarded with a rattlesnake bite than other venomous snake encounters. However, the recovery of your furry family member will depend on several factors.

    The age, size of the dog, current health status at the time of bite, and the time that passes before he is treated will all contribute to the recovery success. The bite location can have an impact, as can the size of the wound.

    Potential problems that may contribute to the prognosis are bringing your pet to the vet when his condition is grave, the possibility of rapid deterioration no matter what the veterinarian’s efforts may have been, and the inability to determine the type of snake bite your pet received. It has been documented as well that signs of toxicity have been known to appear after a delay when all was thought to be well, and the pet was not being as closely monitored by the owner.

    In the event of a successful recovery (and it is possible), follow-up will be needed for assessment of wound healing, and an examination and testing visit to evaluate the return of bodily systems, muscles, and organs to their normal function.

    As a pet owner, you must realize that the recovery time could be quite extensive, involving rehabilitation and continued therapy.

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    *Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

    Snake Bite Average Cost

    From 367 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

    Average Cost

    $8,000

    arrow-up-icon

    Top

    Snake Bite Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

    Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

    question-icon-cta

    Ask a Vet

    dog-name-icon

    dog-breed-icon

    Chihuahua Beagle

    dog-age-icon

    One Year and 11 Months

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Whining, And Swelling In The Hip, Snake Bite

    I can tell it’s a snake bite but I don’t know what type or what to do. He has a vet but they’re unavailable due to the fact it’s night time.

    Sept. 27, 2020

    Owner

    answer-icon

    Dr. Michele K. DVM

    recommendation-ribbon

    0 Recommendations

    Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in answering, these emails are not set up for urgent messages. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

    Oct. 14, 2020

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    dog-breed-icon

    Mutt

    dog-age-icon

    Eight Months

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Redness

    Will my dot survive

    Sept. 26, 2020

    Owner

    answer-icon

    Dr. Michele K. DVM

    recommendation-ribbon

    0 Recommendations

    Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

    Oct. 18, 2020

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    dog-breed-icon

    Corgi/ lab mix

    dog-age-icon

    Eight Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Black Eyes, Nose Is Dry, Does Not Want To Open Mouth, Walks Around Alot.

    Think it is a snake issue. Black eyes, walks around with head down, eyes moving. He wants to like hide.

    Sept. 5, 2020

    Owner

    answer-icon

    Dr. Gina U. DVM

    recommendation-ribbon

    0 Recommendations

    If you are think that your pet was bitten by a snake, I recommend that you take him to a veterinarian right away. Certain snakes like pygmy rattlesnakes and coral snakes can bite and their venom is toxic. Seek veterinary care immediately.

    Sept. 5, 2020

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    dog-breed-icon

    Bedlington Terrier

    dog-age-icon

    Three Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Redness

    We are staying in a home rental at Lake Burton in Tiger, GA and our dog was bitten on the face by a copperhead. I gave her Claritin 10 mg redi-tab and want to know what else to do. There are no vets open at this hour.

    Aug. 31, 2020

    Owner

    answer-icon

    Dr. Michele K. DVM

    recommendation-ribbon

    0 Recommendations

    Thank you for your question, I'm sorry that happened to your dog. Other than the antihistamine you gave, there is not anything that you can do at home. There are two or three veterinary clinics in that area that open Monday morning at 8 a.m. It would be best to have her seen as soon as they open Monday. They will be able to administer stronger medications, and assess whether she needs further care. I hope that everything goes well and she is okay.

    Aug. 31, 2020

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    dog-breed-icon

    Dachshund

    dog-age-icon

    Eleven Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    4 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Unknown severity

    Has Symptoms

    Swelling And Pain On Neck And Muzzel Suspected Snake Bite

    I think my dog was bit by a snake about and hour and a half ago. She has swelling and obvious pain around what I think is the bite on her neck. I gave her 4ml children's allergy medication. She isn't displaying any other symptoms right now. What can I do for her? A vet is not available at this time.

    Aug. 6, 2020

    Owner

    answer-icon

    Dr. Michele K. DVM

    recommendation-ribbon

    4 Recommendations

    Thank you for your question. Other than Benadryl, there are no treatments for snake bites that you can give at home. Snake bites can cause extensive tissue necrosis and swelling, and having her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible would be best. Benadryl typically helps keep the signs under control until you can get medical attention, but doesn't work for very long. I hope that she is okay.

    Aug. 6, 2020

    Was this experience helpful?

    dog-name-icon

    Pablo

    dog-breed-icon

    Pit bull

    dog-age-icon

    4 Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Serious severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Serious severity

    Has Symptoms

    Not Able To Walk, Vomiting

    My boyfriend's pit bull was found at the edge of the woods in a thunderstorm, prone and limp. He drove his truck down and got Pablo in the back of the truck. He got him into the house, and as the night went on, the dog became extremely sick, vomiting, diarrhea, unable to walk, drinking a lot of water but vomiting it up. He took him to the vet first thing in the morning, and the vet determined a large, poisonous snake had bitten him on the nose. It has been 48 hours, and poor Pablo is on IV glucose and steroids, still struggling to walk, still not able to eat. Is he likely to survive?

    dog-name-icon

    Rufus

    dog-breed-icon

    chug

    dog-age-icon

    9 Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Moderate severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    0 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Moderate severity

    Has Symptoms

    Weakness,
    Weakness, Neuro

    We have a nine year old pug/chihauhua. We are not sure if our Rufus was bitten by a snake or not, however he was outside to potty on Sat but when he didnt come in we went looking. He was under a small shrub beside our home and when called he wouldnt get up. We first thought it was heat exhaustion so treated that accordingly and even put him in the pool to cool him down. He was having respiratory trouble and having trouble standing on his hind legs. While in the pool for just a few minutes he was moving all 4 legs. We took him on to vet for treatment of his breathing and weakness but the vet i went to was 15 min from closing and they said it was too late in the day and I should take him to the emergency animal hospital. Rufus doesn't do well riding so his anxiety got worse causing the breathing to also worsen. When we finally got him to the clinic it was an hour and 15 min later.He was placed in an oxygen kennel and blood work up showed elevated liver enzymes which the vet attributed to a possible anaphylactic reaction to something. His body temp was normal... He had a seizure yesturday afternoon and another this morning. They have him on anti seizure meds and just gave steroids. He also had a broad spectrum antibiotic and fluids. There is no obvious bite marks but could this be a snake bite?

    dog-name-icon

    Karma

    dog-breed-icon

    shiba inu/husky mix

    dog-age-icon

    3 Years

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Mild severity

    thumbs-up-icon

    6 found helpful

    pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

    Mild severity

    Has Symptoms

    Swelling

    Karma was roaming around off leash in a field in Southern Arizona while I was working in said field. She started laying down in front of me and I realized her neck was starting to swell. I was pretty worried as I have never dealt with a snake bite, or even knew anyone who got bit. She was walking around just fine and followed me back to the van where we drove to the nearest vet hospital (40 mins) Her swelling increased a decent amount during the drive but she was still "with it". I couldn't see the wound but it seemed to be her under left jaw/neck fat area. We walked in the hospital and waited for about 20 mins to meet with anyone. Long story short, the vet checked her breathing and it was not affected. He gave her a pain medicine shot which stoned karma out of her mind, which he did not warm me about prior to seeing her totally wig out after they leave us alone again for like 15 mins. They of course recommended an over night stay, which fluids, antivenom, and the works, which would have been $2000. I could not afford that. But thankfully, I considered the fact that dogs are naturally more resilliant to bites, it bit her in the protective neck fat which is a quicker heal process than in the leg or on the face, her breathing was strong and unaffected even though her swelling looked massive. I should add that Karma is 30 lbs and around 3 years old, very healthy and active and gets fed a mostly raw diet. I opted not to give her the antivenom or over night stay. I had already agreed to the horribly narcotic pain killer shot they gave her, and I agreed to antibiotics. Fast forward to healing.. she was very lethargic from the extended release pain shot for the next 3 days. Her swelling moved a lot. It dropped from the gravity, and moved down into her chest and even one leg before completely dissipating. 4-5 days after the bite, I got her to eat some wet canned dog for the first time. She had been drinking water on her own, which was quite a sad spectacle lol. She peed throughout the first few days, but did not pass a bowel movement until maybe 5-6 days after the bite. 3 weeks later she is fine. Small swell around wound site, where scab is starting to slough off. At first I had put wet compresses on her wound to keep it moist to allow for draining, but after the pain killers wore off, she wouldn't let me hold anything to her neck anymore. Moral of the story, if your dog is above 30 lbs and healthy, they can most likely process the venom on their own, and you just need to focus on the wound itself. Karma's didn't bleed until almost 32 hours after the bite. Where it lightly leaked for a day or so. This is normal and needs to happen for the body to release the toxins. Help keep the wound moist, keep cool water close and easily accessible for your dog, only offer SOFT foods for the first 5-7 days after the bite. Do not put a COLD compress on the swelling, it stops blood flow which can lead to clots and frostbite. Give them a soft bed, soft foods, cool water. My dog opted for laying on the cool sand a lot of the time, which makes sense because the ground has anti-inflammatory properties. Read your dog, and keep their limits and strengths in mind. Hope this helps those who feel crazy hearing "go to the vet" over and over again.

    Snake Bite Average Cost

    From 367 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

    Average Cost

    $8,000

    Capstar Flea Tablets for Dogs

    wagwalking.com

    Shop now
    advertisement image
    How can we help your pet?