Snake Bites in Dogs Require Emergency Veterinary Care

Whether you prefer to take your pup for a walk or hike to watch the sun rise or set, or get some fresh air, beware of the snakes found here in the Lone Star State.

Texas is home to over 105 different species and subspecies of snakes. Only 15 of those are potentially dangerous to humans. However, if your dog is caught off guard, or is too curious to back away or leave a snake alone, he or she just may be bitten. Nonpoisonous snake bites are painful and can cause infection, but poisonous snake bites can kill a pup within an hour unless first aid is received. In either scenario – seek immediate veterinary care.

Poisonous Texas Snakes

There are two types of venomous snakes found in Texas.

First, pit vipers are the most common and include copperhead, cottonmouth, and rattlesnake. The second type is the coral snake.


How To Prevent Snakes Bites 

The majority of bites result from people taking unnecessary or foolish risks, or the result of the snake being surprised or cornered. Freeze –  when snakes are seen or known to be nearby until you know where they are. Allow the snake to retreat. If you must move, back up slowly and carefully away from the snake. Wear heavy footwear, snake-proof trousers, leggings, or boots to help reduce your risk. Remember, we are invading their territory.

Additionally, follow these rules when walking with your dog:

  • Keep all pets on a short leash at all times, not off or retractable leash.
  • Avoid rocky or dense brush and grassy areas. Choose wide trails over narrow ones.
  • Do not let your dog play around with a dead snake, as they have been known to bite and inject venom because of muscle contractions.
  • Avoid dusk or nighttime walks (many snakes are nocturnal and hard to see).
  • If your pet seems unusually interested in an area, try to keep him under control and get them away from it.

What To Do When Your Dog Has Been Bitten

Head to the nearest veterinary hospital immediately. Snakebites are always considered an emergency and every minute matters. A venomous snakebite can be fatal if not treated immediately, and even a bite from a nonvenomous snake can pose a danger. Carry your pet to the car rather than having them walk.


Use a Tourniquet – Using a tourniquet can contribute to tissue death. By restricting blood flow near the bite, the venom is concentrated in one area and the blood there is not oxygenated, which can lead to necrosis.

Suck the Venom Out – Once snake venom is in the bloodstream, it’s there for good.


Know the signs! Immediate symptoms of a snake bite may include:

  • Bloody urine
  • Collapse (followed by your pet getting up normally)
  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing/heavy panting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Excessive salivation, drooling or frothing at the mouth
  • Pain
  • Paralysis
  • Puncture wounds (with possible bleeding)
  • Restlessness
  • Swelling
  • Trembling, shaking or twitching of muscles
  • Unsteadiness
  • Weakness in hind legs

One of BAEH’s canine patients pictured here suffered extreme swelling after a snakebite. His quick thinking pet owners rushed him to our animal hospital where he successfully recovered.

Proceed immediately to an animal emergency hospital. The team at Burleson Animal Emergency Hospital is available 24/7. We are located at 12600 South Fwy., Burleson, TX 76028. Call us anytime at 817-900-2000.

Keep your pet quiet and calm on the journey to the vet; this means staying calm yourself too. If (and only if!) you have a second person with you, you can try to reduce the rate that venom spreads through the pet’s body using these methods:

  • Keep the location of the bite below heart level (if possible)
  • Bathe the wound with cold water which may control swelling

Remember, only attempt first aid if you have a second person riding in the car with you; it wastes precious time otherwise.

Pet First-Aid Kit

Just as you keep a first-aid kit on hand for the humans in your family, it is essential to have a pet first-aid kit readily accessible at all times, including one at home and one for when you’re out and about.

We hope you have an opportunity to go outside and enjoy many beautiful, snake-free hikes and walks. However, should you ever need assistance, here at Burleson Animal Emergency Hospital, our experienced team of emergency veterinarians and technicians are available to provide comprehensive and compassionate care for your dog – and cat – around the clock. Contact us anytime and we will prepare for your arrival and discuss our current safety protocols.

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