When it comes to diagnosing and treating a snake bite, time is of the essence. Experts recommend administering first aid while you’re on your way to the vet’s office to minimize the effects of a potentially venomous bite. Here’s what you may want to do:1
- Rinse the site to remove any venom that hasn’t yet made it to the bloodstream.
- Try to prevent your dog from moving and keep the area of the bite below their heart to help slow the spread of venom throughout their body.
- If needed, wrap the wound to protect it and help prevent your dog from licking or biting the area.
- It’s recommended to perform CPR on your dog if they stop breathing at any point during transportation.
Not knowing exactly how to treat a snake bite on a dog can be scary, but staying calm as you await care from a professional can help. Dogs can sense feelings of uneasiness in their humans, so try to calm them down by remaining calm yourself.
Once you see a vet, they’ll conduct an exam, typically bloodwork, to determine if venom is present in your dog’s blood. If you couldn’t identify what type of snake bit your dog, your pup will still be given treatment. If venom is detected, your vet will usually administer antivenom and likely keep your dog hospitalized for at least 24 hours. During your dog’s hospital stay, the vet may conduct additional testing and monitor them for any changes to their health.1
If the snake bite is from a non-venomous snake, your vet may treat it like a puncture wound.3 They might clean the wound, provide antibiotics to prevent infection, and may recommend antihistamines to control any swelling and discomfort your dog might experience.3
The best form of protection is prevention, and that’s especially true for snake bites. Rattlesnake vaccinations are available for dogs and, while it doesn’t prevent the bite from happening, it provides you more time to get to the vet for emergency care in the event of a rattlesnake bite.
Knowing where dangerous snakes roam can also help you prevent your dog from a potential injury. States like California, Florida, and Texas are home to several types of snakes, including venomous snakes. Snakes tend to reside in log and leaf piles, trash heaps, holes, dense brush, tall grass, and anywhere they can find prey.
One way to prevent a potentially fatal snake bite is to be able to identify venomous snakes. Typically, venomous snakes have cat-like pupils that are thin and vertical. All pit vipers — like copperhead snakes or rattlesnakes — will have distinct slanted pupils. If the snake has round pupils, they typically aren’t venomous, but it’s not recommended to presume that on a snake’s eye shape alone.
In any case, it can be hard to look a snake in the eye if they’re slithering at your dog quickly. It’s best to avoid any encounter with a snake by removing yourself and your dog as quickly as possible.
If your dog has been bitten by a snake, vet bills may be inevitable. On top of that, if your dog needs extensive care and recovery after a venomous snake bite, those bills can easily stack up. With a dog insurance policy through MetLife Pet Insurance, you could be reimbursed for covered expenses like exam fees, hospital stays, and necessary medications.4 This could help ease the financial stress of those vet bills. Get a free quote to see how pet insurance can fit into your life.