avoid snake bites in dogs

HELPING TO PREVENT SNAKE BITES IN DOGS

I love all animals! I love all reptiles and I love dogs too. I hate the idea of dogs being bitten by snakes just as much as I hate the idea of a snake being harmed in any way.

There have been many occasions where I have been called to catch a snake following an incident with a dog. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that in many cases, the dog does not survive.

I wanted to give you some tips on how to protect your family dog from snakes. Our favourite four-legged companions have a curious nature and do most of their exploring with their noses. In the garden or out for a walk, this means that dogs put their face right up close to a snake. Usually just to find out what it is and no sinister intention at all!

Dogs are of course, natural protectors. They will protect their humans from a dangerous snake in they detect one. In these situations, the fight between a dog and a snake goes a bit like this:

  • Dog smells snake.
  • Dog bites snake.
  • Snake bites dog.
  • Dog gets really sick.
  • Dog goes to vet.
  • Dog dies.
  • The owner is left with a broken heart and a huge vet bill.

HOW DO WE PREVENT SNAKE BITES IN DOGS?

A common question I’m often asked is how can you protect your dog from snake bites. I have put together the following information and hope that you find it useful:

  • Train your dog, and train him/her very well. Have them so well trained that when you tell them to “come” they do, without hesitation.
  • This means that when you go for a walk you will be able to recall your dog when they go too far away from you. This will help keep them safe!
  • If your dog has good recall, you can call him away from a snake.
  • When going for a walk, stay on the path and away from the edges.
  • If your dog smells something and finds curiosity in it, pay attention to what your dog is doing.
  • While you may still come across a snake on a footpath, you are more likely to be able to keep an eye on your dog if you can see what he is doing.
  • Do NOT let your dog play with dead snakes.
  • Teach your dog not to go near snakes/lizards/reptiles. You can do this by reacting really over the top and running and screaming away whenever you see one, dead or alive! (yes I highly recommend doing this in the privacy of your backyard). You may also consider searching your area for snake avoidance training providers who have extremely effective training methods at a fraction of a vet bill.
  • If you have a blue tongue or a pet snake, keep it secure and safe so the dog can’t get to it. Teach your dog not to go near it.
  • Keep your dog on a lead at all times when walking. Make this a short lead so you have full control of your dog.
  • You need to be aware that there is not a 100% guaranteed way to protect your dog from being bitten by a snake. If you take the above precautions you help to reduce the risk for your doggo.

SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR IF YOU THINK YOUR DOG HAS BEEN BITTEN

Here are some classic signals to be on the lookout for:

  • Weakness followed by collapse
  • Shaking or twitching
  • Dilated pupils or difficulty blinking
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Blood in the urine
  • Paralysis.

There may be other signs and this is not an exhaustive list. If in doubt you should immediately take your dog to a vet. Get him checked thoroughly to be certain he is okay.

The signs of a snake bite are dependent upon the type of snake that bit your dog. Symptoms can vary significantly.

There is not always necessary all of the symptoms. Only 1 or 2 of the symptoms may occur or more. If in doubt, take your dog to a vet.

FIRST AID: WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOUR DOG HAS BEEN BITTEN

If you think your dog has been bitten by a snake there are a couple of things that you can do:

  1. Keep calm and control your own emotions.
  2. Keep your dog calm as possible and reduce anything that might stimulate him.
  3. Remove anyone who will make the situation worse, children or emotional adults will only make things worse usually.
  4. Do NOT wash the wound.
  5. Do NOT apply a tourniquet.
  6. NEVER try to catch or kill the snake yourself.
  7. If you can SAFELY get a photo then do so, otherwise, leave it.
  8. Apply a firm bandage (without restricting blood flow) around the affected limb (if possible) but do NOT tourniquet the bite site.
  9. Take your dog to the Vet ASAP. The quicker you do this, the more chance you have of bringing your dog home.
  10. If you can describe the snake to the vet do so EXACTLY as you saw it and try NOT to make up information.

WHAT IS LIKELY TO HAPPEN AT THE VETS

Tell reception you think your dog was bitten by a snake. This will be treated as an emergency and will mean you see the vet quicker.

The vet will conduct an examination of your dog. They may shave your dog in the affected area to get better access.

Diagnostic tests may be conducted by the veterinarian.

If the bite is confirmed, treatment usually consists of the administration of intravenous fluids and anti-venom. Some dogs will need more than one vial of anti-venom.

Other care may include oxygen supplementation, and artificial ventilation and more depending upon symptoms.

Recovery can take up to 48 hours or longer depending upon the effects of the bite.

RECOVERY FROM A SNAKE BITE

If you get your dog to the vet quickly, you have a much better chance of bringing it home. If left untreated, there is a much-reduced chance of survival.

Either way, the cost of going to a vet for a snake bite is very high. If you live in an area with a high concentration of snakes you should seriously consider pet insurance.

I cannot emphasize enough the following points:

  • Train your dog well. They are your companions for their entire lives. The more effort you put into teaching it will pay off when it really matters.
  • If bitten, get your dog to a vet immediately. Do NOT delay.
  • Do NOT try to catch, handle or kill a snake ever.
  • Keep your pets safe!

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