My Dog Ate a Snake: What to Do?

Dogs are sometimes interested in their surroundings; these surroundings include the ground where many things are found, including living things. Dogs being curiously interested in their surroundings, may see living things like snails, snakes, worms, etc., and may try to catch them. If successful while catching them, some dogs may try to kill or even eat them. In several cases, dogs have also been seen to kill and eat snakes.

The risk to your furry buddy’s health is when you are not sure what type of snake your canine ate or whether the snake is poisonous or not. You may need to check what type of snakes are common in your geographical location.

Another danger to your dog’s health is if it was bitten during the scuffle with the snake. Even if the snake is free of poison, the wound may be infected with bacteria and parasites. The danger to your dog’s health heightens when the snake is poisonous.

So the best thing to do if you see your dog eating a dead snake is to take your canine to the vet for a check-up just in case it was bitten or because it just might have ingested a poisonous snake.

What Should You Do if Your Dog Ate a Snake?

Do not panic if you just found out that your dog ate a dead snake it found or killed. The first thing to do is to reach the vet and report what happened; make sure to give them all the information possible, including the description of the snake if you may have seen it. If you notice your dog vomiting, take it to the vet clinic immediately.

Some dogs, even after eating poisonous snakes, turn out to be fine. This is because the venom isn’t toxic until it is in the bloodstream. But your dog may have gotten wounded when eating the snake’s head, and some snakes like the deadly rattlesnake are still dangerous long after death.

A cut from a dead snake is still life-threatening so observe your dog for any sign of vomiting, coughing blood or heavy drooling.

There is also a chance that the snake itself was poisoned as some farmers use pesticides on their farms to kill pests, including snakes. Your dog may have ingested this pesticide from eating a poisoned snake. The best thing to do is to take your dog to your vet immediately.

What Happens if a Dog Eats a Dead Snake?

Finding any dead animal, let alone a snake is a reason for panic for any dog owner. Not much is known about what would happen if a snake is ingested by a dog but we know it’s probably not a good thing.

Venomous snakes usually aren’t venomous once they’re dead i.e., their venom becomes non-toxic. Snakes like rattlesnakes on the other hand are still venomous for a few hours even after their death.   

Your dog can either get sick or even die depending on what snake they ate and the health of that snake. The level of sickness depends on the species and its health. But if caught early there’s nothing to worry about.

So, let’s see what you should do in such a scenario:

1. Call Up Your Vet

If your dog ate a snake, knowing the type of that snake would be very helpful. If it’s a non-venomous snake or if the dog ate the snake after it died, your dog’s going to be ok. But still, follow these steps to make sure they’re fine.

First of all, you should stay calm. Do not panic. Then, call your vet immediately even if there aren’t any symptoms. They will advise you on what to do.

Also, tell them what exactly happened and not leave any detail. Time is crucial here and even though your dog might be fine, call your vet just to be on the safe side.

2. Check If Your Dog Was Bitten

Snakes don’t go down without a fight. Neither do dogs. Chances are the snake might have bitten your dog while it was fighting for its life. Face, neck, and legs are some of the areas the snake might’ve bitten. Here are the symptoms you should look for:

  • Sudden weakness and collapse after your dog gets up normally
  • Trembling, shaking, or twitching of muscles
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Unsteadiness/weakness in hind legs
  • Excessive salivation, drooling, or mouth foaming
  • Bloody urine
  • Dilated pupils
  • Paralysis
  • Swelling at the biting site will be severe
  • Excessive panting
  • Agitation

In many cases, the pain and swelling can be minimal. So, even if those two symptoms aren’t there, you should go to the vet immediately as mentioned above.

3. Get an Emergency Aid

Once you’ve called the vet, follow these emergency first aid steps to reduce the impact of the bite:

  • If you notice a bite wound, clean it with water to eliminate any venom.
  • To discourage the spread of venom, keep the wound below the heart and your pet as motionless as possible.
  • If your pet isn’t breathing, contact your veterinarian for CPR instructions.
  • Continue to maintain your cool. Pets can detect panic and experience stress as a result. Stress might cause the venom to circulate more quickly in the body!

If your vet clinic is near, do not waste time following these steps. Go to the vet immediately. Note that getting bitten by a snake is a medical emergency.

You may also check a comprehensive guide on what to do if your dog is bitten by a snake from a veterinary specialist.

Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Snakes?

There are two kinds of snakes that you should worry about. Venomous snake and poisonous snake.

The difference between these two is that venomous snakes are those that inject their poison through their fangs or bites. Poisonous snakes are the ones who will inject their venom into you if you eat them.

Your dog getting sick from eating snakes is possible. The level of sickness depends on the species of the snake. Non-venomous snakes aren’t usually as life-threatening as venomous snakes but they have the power to make your dog sick. 

If the snake was venomous but didn’t bite your dog, your dog is probably safe since the venom is only toxic when injected into the skin rather than swallowed.

Whereas, if the snake is poisonous, ingesting it will make your dog sick and can also be fatal for them.   

If your dog has eaten a snake, look out for symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite after 24-hour observation. Go to the vet if any symptoms arise.

Even if the snake is non-venomous, your dog can develop parasites and other illnesses because snakes are known carriers of diseases like salmonella. So yes, your dog can get sick from eating snakes and it is better to go to the vet after a 24-hour observation.

Can a Dog Die From Eating a Snake?

Yes, a dog can die from eating a snake. This may result from the dog eating the head of a venomous snake or eating a snake that harmful substances have poisoned.

There are three reasons why that would happen:

1. Due to Injected Venom

A severed snakehead, particularly one from a venomous species, retains reflexes and can inject venom into the victim. A dying snake is said to be significantly more harmful since it emits enormous amounts of venom all at once.

2. Eating the Head of a Venomous Snake

The dog might also die if it eats the severed head of a venomous snake. This is because the venom of a snake is stored in its head sac. Take your dog to the vet immediately especially if it starts acting differently and starts coughing up blood.

3. Eating a Snake, Poisoned By Pesticides

Your dog could also die if it ingests a snake that has been poisoned by pesticides. If your dog ate a toxin-poisoned dead snake, they could ingest the venom, making them sick.

So yes, your dog might die if they eat a dead snake but you can save them by taking immediate action.

How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Snakes and Getting Sick?

Dogs are naturally curious about everything they see. Your dog might get bitten in the face when it gets too close to a snake out of curiosity. It is important to always remember that your dog is not protected against snake venom.

This means you should take action whenever you see your dog trying to come in contact with a snake. However, if your dog is always curious about snakes, read below for other things you can do.

  • Prevent your dog from going to areas that have moisture, rocks, sticks or leaves. This is because snakes are mostly found in such areas.
  • Your dog should avoid walls because some venomous snakes can climb walls to strike your dog.
  • When the temperature is cool, snake bites become more frequent. This means you should put your dog on a leash during the night to prevent it from roaming close to areas where snakes can be found.
  • Dangerous snakes can be detected by their smell. Searching the internet for a training course on how to help your dog avoid dangerous snakes would be quite helpful.

Are Garter Snakes Toxic to Dogs?

The garter snake, also known as a grass snake, is a non-venomous snake found in North America.

Only some have venom and even then they’re not considered significantly toxic for humans. These are the snakes your dogs might have common encounters with since they’re found in gardens.

The mild toxins produced by garter snakes are used to stun small prey so they don’t cause significant damage to humans or large mammals like dogs. But they can make your dog sick even though they’re harmless

Your dog might gag, drool, or salivate when they have a garter snake in their mouth but this is because of the musky odor the snake produces as a defense mechanism. If you’re worried though, you can always go to the vet.

Are Dogs Immune to Snake Venom?

Dogs are not immune to snake venom. Hence, it can get pretty dangerous for your dog. We don’t know what kind of snake the dog could encounter. It could be venomous or non-venomous. Do not make the mistake of thinking your dog is immune to snake venom.  

This is why your dog should get antivenom treatment as soon as possible. The dog’s body cannot break down the venom and make it harmless.

The good news is that there are vaccines like rattlesnake vaccines that provide immunity to the dog from rattlesnake venom. Rattlesnakes have the deadliest venom and their venom is still present after death for hours.

Note: Vaccines against rattlesnake venom do not eliminate the need for medical treatment, but they do help to lessen the degree of harm. According to experts, the vaccine provides immunity to the dog from the snake’s venom. Thus, allowing the dog’s system to break down the poison once it has entered the bloodstream.

Are Garden Snakes Poisonous to Dogs?

Garden snakes, especially Garter snakes, are the most common snakes your dog might come in contact with. Even though these snakes are quite harmless, they can strike if they feel threatened by your dog.

Garter snakes have only a little venom compared to other garden snakes, but this venom can cause your dog to fall ill. In other words, garden snakes are quite harmless even though they have a little venom.

This means you shouldn’t allow your dog to come in contact with them because they can strike when they feel your dog is a threat. If your dog reacts negatively to the venom of these garden snakes, it may cause your dog to become sick or even die.

When your dog eats a garter snake, one of the reasons for the symptoms it displays would be the garter’s smell. Yes, garters emit a musky odor when they feel other animals threaten them. This smell may cause your dog to become sick.

Even though dogs who come in contact with garter snakes do not have serious health complications, it is advised that you communicate to a vet if your dog eats or gets bitten by a garden snake. Some symptoms you may notice in your dog are drooling and gagging.

Conclusion

To find out that your dog just ingested a dead snake is truly a worrisome thought. However, as long as your dog wasn’t bitten during the killing or eating of the snake, it was probably a harmless encounter, and your dog might just be okay. But you need to be vigilant and observe your dog, especially if the snakes in your geographical region are poisonous.

A dog that just ate a common non-poisonous snake, e.g. a garter, will not be harmed. But if your canine just ate a poisonous snake, e.g. a rattlesnake, it requires an immediate trip to the vet clinic, especially if your dog ate the head of the poisonous snake where the poison is stored.

The fact is your dog may or may not be affected by eating a dead snake, so just observe your pooch. If you observe anything, call your vet or any other professional.

Disclaimer: This blog should not be considered as being professional pet medical advice. The content published on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult with a licensed and local veterinarian for medical advice.

About Shaun Clarke

Shaun is passionate about pets and animals, especially dogs, cats, and rabbits. He owns a dog and a couple of cats too. He loves visiting wildlife sanctuaries and shares a strong bond with animals. When he is not writing, he loves to do a barbecue in the backyard with his family and friends.

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