Snake bites can be scary to deal with, especially if one bites your dog who can’t speak up and tell you what’s wrong. Implementing prevention measures to keep your dog away from snakes should be the first line of defense. However, when prevention doesn’t work, it’s crucial to know the signs of snake bites in dogs so you can react with enough time to save your pup if the snake was venomous.
How to prevent snake bites
Snakes only bite over food disputes or when they feel threatened. Since dogs and snakes don’t compete for food sources, snake bites typically happen when the snake is startled or the dog won’t leave it alone. A few simple prevention techniques can stop both scenarios:
- Keep your lawn trimmed and edged
- Remove debris and woodpiles from your yard
- Keep your dog on a leash
Some dog owners even spring for snake aversion training, where the dog is taught to identify the smell of a snake in order to avoid contact.
Signs of a snake bite in dogs
Even when you’ve done everything in your power to prevent your precious pooch from running into a snake, a bite is still possible. If your dog shows any of the signs below, seek emergency veterinary care as soon as possible:
- Swelling, bleeding or bruising around the bite site
- Muscle shaking or twitching
- Difficulty blinking
- Difficulty breathing
- Sudden weakness
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Bloody urine
- Increase salivation
- Enlarged pupils
Snakebite treatments for dogs
After considering the type of snake, location of the bite, and presentation of symptoms, your veterinarian will develop a treatment plan for your dog that is both effective and safe. You can expect the vet to clean the puncture site, trim away any fur, and start antibiotics if there is visible tissue damage. All other treatments will depend on the symptoms your dog has, but may include:
- Pain medication
- IV fluids
- Colloidal fluids
Once your dog is stable, the vet may still want to keep him or her at the office for observation until they’re sure the venom is completely metabolized. At discharge, you’ll be instructed to monitor your dog’s eating, drinking, and behavior for anything out of the ordinary, and may even be sent home with prescription medication.
Most dogs recover from snake bites without further issue, even venomous bites. However, even after suffering from the pain and stress of being bitten, many dogs will return to the exact place where the bite happened, and possibly harass the snake again. Therefore, using prevention strategies to stop contact before it happens again is vital.
If you’re in the northeast Tampa area and you think your dog has been bitten by a snake, call Pet Urgent Care of Wesley Chapel at (813) 279-6500 to speak with one of our trained representatives. You can also walk-in at 27027 SR 56 in Wesley Chapel. We’re open every evening until 11 pm and have the staff and experience necessary to handle the most challenging pet care cases.