Once a dog has been bitten by a poisonous snake, immediate medical care is needed to prevent permanent tissue damage and/or possible death. Fortunately with quick action, over 95% of all snake bites in dogs can be successfully treated.
Symptoms of a Snake Bite
Visible bite wounds which look like small puncture wounds
Bleeding, bruising, and swelling around the site of the bite wound
Excessive swelling on the portion of the body the bite occurred (for example, if the bite was on the head the dog's whole head may begin to balloon within a matter of minutes)
Color changes to the tissue surrounding the wound such as red, blue, and black as the tissue dies
Signs of shock such as pale gums, cool skin, and tremors
Weakness, lethargy, confusion, and lack of coordination
What You Should Do
Try to remember what the snake looked like if you were able to see it when the bite occurred. Remain calm, help the dog to lie down and move as little as possible, and get directions to the nearest veterinarian clinic. Immediately go to the nearest veterinarian clinic and if possible have someone call them to let them know a snake bite victim is on the way. Try to keep the dog as still as possible after the bite occurred and during transport.
Never try to cut into the bite wound, suck out the venom, or cut off circulation to a limb that has suffered a snake bite. Do not apply ice or heat to the wound. Just keep your dog as still as possible and get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
What Your Veterinarian Will Do
Depending on the severity of the dog's condition, and how long ago the bite occurred, the veterinarian may administer an anti-venom injection. Additional snake bite treatments include: administering an antihistamine to increase blood pressure and reduce the reaction to the snake bite, pain medication, blood transfusion if blood coagulation has decreased to life threatening levels, antibiotics to reduce any secondary infections from occurring, provide oxygen therapy, address shock, and use several blood tests to assess the dog's organ function and any possible organ damage.
Most dogs need to stay in a pet hospital for at least a day to remain under observation. If the bite reaction was severe, the dog may need to stay for a few days until it can be stabilized and sent home.