Your Dog's Been Bitten By A Snake, Here's What To Do And What Not To Do

Snakes often hide out in woodpiles, in high grass, around riverbeds, and in lots of other areas where your dog might go roaming around. This means that you need to be prepared for the possibility that your dog can get bitten by a snake. So if you take your dog for walks in the country, or you let them roam around your property and you live in a rural area, here are some dos and don'ts about dealing with a snake bite.  

Remove Your Dog From The Area

A dog that has been bitten by a snake will yelp or start to limp around. They might not move away from the snake. Perhaps they are shocked and don't run. But it is important to get them away. The snake might have "dry bit" the first time, but if your dog hangs around the snake, frightening it, the snake might strike again, this time with full poison.

Take A Photo Of The Snake

Once you have your dog moved away from the area, take a photo of the snake if possible. You should not get so close as to endanger yourself, but the visual evidence will be very helpful. You want the veterinarian to be able to tell if they are dealing with a simple garter snake bite or something such as a copperhead or water moccasin—the later two being poisonous snakes, which will require the vet use anti-venom or oxygen therapy. However, don't waste time running around looking for the snake if you can't find it.

Do Not Tie A Makeshift Tourniquet or "Suck Out" The Poison

You might have heard that you can tie off the blood supply and prevent the poison from traveling up through your the veins. This is hokum. You risk cutting off circulation and injuring your dog. Likewise, cutting open the wound and sucking out the poison is not a good idea either. It is not effective, and your saliva can actually cause infection.

Do Not Try And Administer Medication

Another tip you often see posted online is to try and give your dog an anti-histamine. While the theory behind this is sound, in practice you are simply wasting time. Those minutes after the snake bite are crucial, and you need to get to your vet, not try and force feed your dog a pill while they are limping and in pain.

Take Your Dog To The Closest Emergency Veterinarian

Your main task is to calm your dog down, get them in your car, and take them to the closest veterinarian. The photo is important, but don't waste time trying to locate the snake if you can't easily see it. Take a quick snap, but then get your dog into the car. Try and calm them down. The calmer their heart rate, the slower the blood will pump, and the slower the poison (should the snake be poisonous) will travel.

When you get to the vet, the dog will be examined. The dog might not be exhibiting any symptoms, but the vet will still take precautions such as examining the wound, disinfecting the area, and taking your dog's blood pressure. They will also have the equipment necessary (oxygen, antibiotics, and contacts to get anti-venom) to help your dog. If you do have the photo, the vet can try and determine if the snake indeed was poisonous. This photo is most helpful in cases where the dog is not yet exhibiting any symptoms.

For more information on how to deal with a snake bite or how to keep your dog healthy in general, contact a veterinary clinic in your area, such as Coastal Carolina Animal Hospital.