Rattlesnake in Kal park

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 nearest veterinary clinic immediately.

Non-venomous Bull Snake

Bull Snake back yard


The symptoms of snake bite may appear within 1 to 24 hours after the incident occurs, but it is very important to note that the effects of a 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 also occur. Also shaking, tremors, excessive salivation, and/or rapid shallow breathing may occur. Some species, such as the rattlesnake, also have neurotoxic effects.

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 with a venomous bite. The reaction to the bite will vary on the species of the snake and the toxicity of the 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) Bites to the head or extremities may  cause less mortality. If you suspect that your canine family member has been bitten by a snake do not delay in rushing him to the nearest veterinary hospital.

Stay Calm

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 cell 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. Treatment of snake bites will be determined once the Veterinarian has assessed your dog. Your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and antihistamines as required. If the veterinarian has determined that your dog requires antivenom, it will be administered if available, along with locating, marking and cleaning the bite.

How long does pet stay at the hospital?

The remaining course of treatment will depend upon the severity of the bite, and the type of snake that caused the condition. Your pet will need close observation for up to 48 hours as sometimes the full signs and effects of the bite 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. Dog studies show that the prognosis of recovery is more guarded with a rattlesnake bite than other venomous snake encounters. However, the recovery of your dog 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. Recovery time can be quite extensive involving rehabilitation and continuing therapy.