If you take your dog hiking, snakes may be hiding under brush or in their holes. Dogs tend to be quite nosy and may uncover a snake that might otherwise have stayed hidden. While 8000 people are bitten by snakes every year in the United States, only about 12 of those are fatal. However, the number of dogs killed by snake bites is unknown. “I don’t believe we have a valid source of information on the actual numbers of dogs bitten or killed by snakes annually in the United States,” Professor of Veterinary Internal Medicine at the University of Florida, Michael Schaer, DVM explained, “because there is no central data resource for this.”
Poisonous snakes bite and kill dogs and cats, with over one million bites reported in the United States every year. The bite is very painful for your animal, and urgent medical care is advised.
Dog Fatality Rate
Dr. Michael Schaer found about a 20% fatality rate in dogs who were bitten by Eastern Coral snakes and Eastern Diamondback snakes, in the 22 years he has been a lead clinician. In the United States, only Hawaii and Alaska have no snakes. Some states have more snakes than others, and some states have more venomous snakes than others, so it depends on where your dog lives, or visits, that increases his chances of being bitten by a snake.
Venomous Snake Types
There are 15 rattlesnake species found in the United States, along with two kinds of coral snakes, and two kinds of water moccasins, called the copperhead and the cottonmouth.
- Adult size averages 22 to 36 inches long
- Some reach 53 inches
- Found from Northern Florida west to texas and southeastern Nebraska and from Northern Florida up to Massachusetts.
- Adult size averages 20 to 48 inches
- Some reach 70 inches
- Found from Florida up to Virginia, and Florida west to Illinois, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas
Eastern Diamondhead Rattlesnake
- Adult size averages 36 to 72 inches
- Some can reach 96 inches
- Found from Florida to the keys and north shore islands, Florida north to North Carolina, and Florida west to Mississippi and Louisiana.
- Adults average 36 to 60 inches
- Some have reached 70 inches
- Found only in small areas of the eastern United States
- Endangered species
Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake
- Adults average 12 to 24 inches
- Some have reached 31 inches
- Found throughout Florida and north to North Carolina, Florida west to some parts of Mississippi and Texas.
Eastern Coral Snake
- Adults average 20 to 30 inches
- Some reach over 40 inches
- Found in all of Florida and north to North Carolina, Florida west to Texas and
Dogs Bitten By Snakes
If your dog gets bitten by a snake, chances are he will have a full recovery, as long as you seek medical help immediately. Depending on the species of the snake, the age of the snake, the depth of fang penetration, the intensity of the bite, the location of the bite, the amount of venom delivered, and the size of your dog, the veterinarian will be able to make a determination for treatment.
What You Should Do If Your Dog Is Bitten By A Snake
- Do not suck out the venom
- Do not cut X’s into the fang marks with a knife
- Do not attack the snake
- Do take a picture of the snake, if you safely can, if not take note of its size, color, pattern on skin, and if there is a rattle on the end of its tail.
- Do look for fang marks on your dog. There may be more than one wound.
- Use a band or cloth to create a tourniquet between the wound and your dog’s heart. Make sure it’s snug, but not so snug to cut off blood circulation.
- Keep your dog calm.
- Head to the nearest emergency vet clinic.
Preventing Snake Bites
- Keep your dog on a leash when out walking or hiking.
- Stay on the path and do not let your dog venture into the brush.
- Keep your dog away from holes in the ground.
- Keep your dog from digging under logs or rocks.
- Try not to walk wooded paths at night.
- If your dog is barking at something in the high grass, pull him back.
- If you hear a rattle, pull your dog to your side and move away.
Snake Venom: What It is
Snakes create a toxic fluid in special oral glands that are part of their salivary glands. Complex proteins make up the toxic component, with each snake containing more than one toxin in their venom. The combination of toxins is more powerful than one toxin alone, with the toxic effects coming from the enzymes in the venom, of which there have been 25 discovered thus far.
There are two types of venom; neurotoxic or hemotoxic. Neurotoxins affect the nervous system, while hemotoxins affect the blood and vessels. Most snakes contain both neurotoxins and hemotoxins.
- Severe pain
- Cell death
- Diminished function
- Blood vessel lining damage
- Clotting defects
- Tissue destruction
- Loss of Limb
- Be diligent when walking your dog
- Get help immediately
- Identify the snake that bit your dog