Playing in the wild has its risks. Whether you are an avid hiker, or you love to explore new places, there are always going to be pitfalls that are dangerous for dogs, whether they are ticks, bug bites, bee-stings, or predators. Though we seldom think of snake bites as a common occurrence in these modern times, the reality is they still happen, and you may be particularly susceptible if you and your pooch roam around regularly in the great outdoors.

If your dog should amble into the bramble and emerge with a few bloody puncture wounds on his leg, or perhaps you have seen the snake spring for the dog, there are certain things to be aware of and actions to take. Depending on what kind of snake or how old it was, the venom potency (and therefore the danger) will vary.  Here are some quick tips on how to handle your dog getting bitten by a snake.

PRE-Accident:  Always be prepared. If your favorite hiking grounds or hills nearby are riddled with snakes, make sure you have a first aid kit with you containing diphenhydramine or an antihistamine (like Benadryl) which you can give your dog as a first-response to reduce inflammation.

1. Limit your dog’s movement.  Try to get him to lay down, and stay as still as possible while you do what you can to transfer him to your vehicle. Running and walking will cause the blood to pump faster and the venom to spread more rapidly.  When the dog is resting, feed him the allergy medicine you have in the first aid kit.

2. Despite an erstwhile practice, avoid using tourniquets or trying to forcibly restrict blood flow. Do not try to be a hero and suck the venom out of the blood stream either, as this will only increase your own risk of infection, and will not effectively accomplish anything.

3. Call the emergency pet care hotline, your local animal hospital or vet to let them know you are bringing your pet in, how far away you might be, and all the facts you have regarding the incident.

4. Make note of symptoms.  When bitten by a snake, a dog may drool, vomit, become dizzy or disoriented.  He might seize up, have paralysis, or lose mobility and have trouble breathing.  Being able to accurately detail the symptoms (or describe the appearance of the snake) will help medical professionals determine what happened, how severe the poisoning is, and how to provide the proper care.

See our article on Snake Bite Symptoms.

Safety Tips

  • Keep your dog on a leash at all times when in snake populous areas.
  • Put your dog in a snake-avoidance training course through your local animal shelter, or breed-affiliation or club.
  • Keep your vet or animal hospital’s number easily accessible in your phone.
  • Consider getting pet insurance if you live are large property or in areas where snakebites are relatively common.