Venomous Snakes and your Dog

When the weather warms up, so do the snakes in our area. Dogs by nature are curious and territorial, thus when they encounter a wiggly intruder in their back yard, their first instinct is to sniff the snake and if that snake turns out to be one of the venomous snakes, the encounter may end with a painful bite on his nose.

Most snakes prefer to avoid a confrontation and will slither away when left alone, but if startled or harassed by your barking dog, they will strike to defend itself. The muzzle and paws are the most common areas that I find snake bites. In the last week alone, we have one bite on the nose, my own dog got bit on his toe and another dog played with the snake and got several bites on his tongue.

Fortunately, most of the snake bites in our area are from copperheads which can inflict a painful bite with a lot of swelling and local tissue destruction, but seldom results in the death of your pet. Emergency treatment given by your veterinarian will be determined by the type of snake that bit your pet and the type of reaction your pet is having to the venom. Antivenin is available for pets, but it is expensive and you have to know which snake bit your pet.

A good on-line source to identify snakes can be found at

For dogs traveling to areas filled with rattlesnakes, you may consider vaccinating them with the Red Rock Rattlesnake Vaccine. Rattlesnake bites are more deadly than copperheads and the vaccine may help to lessen the severity of the bite reaction. The vaccine may also help reduce the copperhead reactions but has no effect against the cottonmouth or coral snake venom.

Venomous Snakes in the Houston Area




Cottonmouth (water moccasin)

Diamondback Rattlesnake

Diamondback Rattlesnake

Coral Snake

Coral Snake

Tips to prevent snake encounters:

  • Hike only on open paths and keep dog on leash at all times.
  • Keep your dog from exploring holes or under logs where snakes may hide.
  • Clear away brush and debris from around your house.
  • Keep your yard mowed short.
  • Teach your dog the “leave it” command so if you see a snake, he will respond by returning to you, rather than chasing the snake.

If your dog does encounter a snake and is bitten, or your dog comes in from playing outside and his face begins to swell, take him to your veterinarian or emergency clinic so they can initiate treatment. Do not attempt to catch the snake, a photo with your smart phone will help in identifying the snake. We do not want you to end up in the ER for another snakebite.


Remember that every snake in your yard is not venomous, but can be helpful in controlling mice and rats in your yard. So don’t make a vendetta against all snakes. Hog-nosed snakes are common in the area and can raise up like a cobra and strike at you but they are not toxic to humans or pets.

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  1. Michael says:

    It is true that as the weather is getting warmer, the numbers of snakes are increasing in many states in US that is certainly a concern for other creatures including dogs. Copperhead snakes are also one of the snakes that can be found in many states in US and their numbers are on a high as the temperature is increasing. These snakes can be up to 40 inches long.

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