What You Need to Know About Snake Bites

Now that Spring is here you’re likely spending more time outdoors. While enjoying the warm weather your pets are at a higher risk for many illnesses and injuries, including snake bites! Fatal snakebites are more common in dogs than in other domestic animals. If your dog or cat is exhibiting signs of a snakebite, here’s what you need to know.

Poisonous Snakes

Not all snakes are venomous! Copperheads, Cottonmouths (Water Moccasins), Rattlesnakes, and Eastern Coral Snakes are all venomous snakes that can be found in North Carolina.

Venomous Bites

Venomous snake bites cause severe pain, numbness, and cell death- potentially resulting in the loss of a limb. Snake bites begin effecting your pet at the site of the bite causing inflammation, clotting defects, and tissue destruction. Some snake bites can even cause neurotoxicity leading to paralysis.

Signs of a Snakebite

If you have reason to believe that your dog or cat was bitten by a snake you should seek immediate medical care. The degree of injury caused by a snake bite depends on type of snake, location of the bite, size of the victim, and the time it takes to initiate treatment.

Signs and symptoms of a snakebite vary depending on the type of snake. You may notice:

  • Swelling at the bite site
  • Sudden weakness and/or collapse
  • Muscle twitching
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody urine
  • Paralysis

In dogs, the most common areas for bites are the muzzle or the legs when they encounter a snake while digging around or rooting.


While not all snake bites can be prevented, there are some things you can do to help reduce your pet’s risk. Dogs should always be leash walked and you should not allow them to explore holes in the ground or dig under logs, rocks, or debris. Staying on open paths and walking during daylight hours increases the chance of spotting a snake prior to a confrontation. Cats are natural hunters and stalk anything that moves. This can lead to unpleasant situations if he/she encounters a snake. Keeping your yard clear of long grass, brush, or piles of debris can help keep snakes away from your yard.

So while you’re enjoying this beautiful Carolina Spring, be mindful of all of the dangers that come with it!