Dogs can sometimes be fascinated by snakes, particularly certain breeds that are more prone to this attraction. If your dog catches and consumes a snake, it’s natural to be concerned about the potential consequences. In this guide, we’ll explore the risks of dogs getting sick from eating snakes, what happens when a dog consumes a snake, and crucial next steps to take. This informative read covers essential details about common garden snakes, copperheads, and black snakes.
Can dogs get sick from eating snakes?
Dogs have the potential to become ill from consuming snakes, although the severity of the sickness can vary based on the snake species and the snake’s overall health.
If the snake your dog eats is venomous but did not bite your dog, the chances of your dog being affected by the venom are minimal. Venom is harmful when it is injected into the skin through a bite or sting but is usually not dangerous when swallowed.
However, if the snake your dog consumes is poisonous, it can make your dog very sick and even lead to fatality. An example of a poisonous snake is the garter snake, which is not venomous itself but can accumulate toxins from the newts and salamanders it consumes.
If the snake is neither venomous nor poisonous, your dog can still become ill from consuming it if the snake carries any diseases. Snakes can harbor bacteria such as Salmonella and various parasites like the tapeworm Spirometra and the roundworm Gnathostoma.
According to [source], dogs with a Salmonella infection typically do not display symptoms but can transmit the disease to humans. In rare cases, dogs may experience symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, chills, loss of appetite, and weakness, which may require hospitalization. Treatment typically involves antibiotics and ensuring hydration.
Spirometra infections are common in southeastern and Gulf Coast states, with reported cases also in Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Cats and dogs can become infected when they consume amphibians, reptiles, birds, or mammals that carry this parasite. Symptoms of infection often include diarrhea, weight loss, and vomiting, which can usually be addressed with antihelminthic treatment.
In rare instances, the parasite may spread throughout the dog’s body, leading to a more severe and potentially fatal condition known as proliferative sparganosis.
Similarly, gnathostomiasis, caused by a parasitic worm, is primarily found in Asia but has been reported in Australia and Africa. If your neighbor owns an exotic pet snake, there is a slim chance it may unintentionally carry this parasite. Dogs become infected and sick when they consume the intermediate host, which, in this case, could be a snake. Symptoms of gnathostomiasis often include progressive loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness, and weight loss.
What to do if your dog ate a snake and seems sick?
If your dog has consumed a snake and appears unwell, closely observe them for the next 24 hours to a week. If they develop diarrhea, they may have contracted a Salmonella infection. In the case of persistent loss of appetite or prolonged diarrhea lasting for weeks or months, consider the possibility of a parasitic infection.
It’s crucial to take your dog to a veterinarian and provide as many details as possible about the snake your dog ingested and the symptoms you’ve observed.
Can a dog get sick from eating a garden snake?
Most garden snakes are not poisonous to dogs, but they have a tendency to emit an unpleasant odor when threatened or attacked by dogs. This unpleasant odor can potentially upset your dog’s stomach, leading to symptoms that may appear as if your dog is sick from eating or being in proximity to a garden snake. However, as with any other snakes, there is a risk of bacterial infections and associated sickness.
My dog ate a black snake, will he be sick?
Like previous cases, black snakes are not venomous. However, if your dog has consumed a snake, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian immediately to ensure their safety.
My dog ate a copperhead snake, will he be sick?
Copperhead snake bites can be fatal for dogs, as laid out in separate post that includes detailed statistics. If your dog has consumed a copperhead snake, there is a risk of bacterial infection, upset stomach, and, in rare cases, intestinal blockage.
My dog ate a snake egg, what should I do?
If your dog has eaten a snake egg, monitor their health for any signs of sickness. It is interesting to note that in some cultures, snake eggs are consumed by humans. To understand the risk involved, however, it is best to refer to advice given by reputable sources regarding the consumption of snake eggs by humans. According to [source], consuming raw snake eggs can prove to be fatal.
How to prevent your dog from eating snakes and getting sick
To snake-proof your outdoor area:
- Regularly mow your grass and trim shrubs and tree branches away from your house.
- Keep brush piles and firewood away from both your house and children’s play areas.
- Avoid landscaping elements such as rock walls that could provide shelter for snakes.
To snake-proof your house:
- Cover any gaps under doors and holes in walls or window screens.
- Take measures to cover roof vents, as climbing snakes, such as rat snakes, often use them as access points.
- Seal the pet door, even though your dog may object. It is for their own safety.
Some people also consider using dog poop as a deterrent to keep snakes away.
Do dogs enjoy killing snakes?
If you find a dead snake near your doorstep or inside your house and you have both a pet cat and a pet dog, chances are the cat is responsible. Research suggests that domesticated cats and dogs have different origins. Humans domesticated dogs for home guarding and game tracking, while cats domesticated themselves by choosing to remain near human settlements that attracted rodents, a favored food source for cats.
In encounters between dogs and snakes, the snake usually has the advantage. Dogs investigate with their noses and mouths, making them more vulnerable to snake bites, while cats use their paws to fend off threats. However, some dogs may still attempt to catch snakes, putting themselves at risk for sickness.
Dog breeds prone to chasing and catching snakes
While specific breeds of dogs are not typically specialized in killing snakes, there are certain breeds that may be more inclined to chase and capture snakes, thus potentially exposing themselves to sickness. These breeds include:
- Australian Terriers
- Cairn Terriers
- German Pinschers
- Jack Russell Terriers
- Lakeland Terriers
- Miniature Schnauzers
- Norfolk Terriers
- Rat Terriers
- West Highland White Terriers
- Yorkshire Terriers
Preventing your dog from consuming snakes is essential as there is a slight chance it can lead to sickness. While most snakes are harmless, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian if your dog eats a snake. Prompt action and professional advice will ensure the well-being of your beloved pet.
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