Regardless of how long you’ve lived in Duval County, you have likely encountered your share of wildlife in your yard, on a trail, at the park, or on the beach. The countless species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects certainly make life more beautiful. But sometimes these species can make life more difficult for humans and pets who share their space.
With over 30 species of snakes in the Jacksonville area, several of which are poisonous, bumping into a snake while you’re with your dog can pose a unique challenge. Many dogs don’t have a natural aversion to snakes, and their curiosity and eagerness to investigate could put them, and you, at risk. Understanding and applying the principles of snake safety for dogs is key to preventing a tragedy.
Each year in the United States, approximately 150,000 pets are bitten by snakes. The snakes that are of the biggest concern in our area include the pit vipers (rattlesnakes and water moccasins) and coral snakes. Coral snakes, although extremely poisonous, tend to be shyer and have a less effective poison delivery system than pit vipers.
Snakes generally bite only when they feel threatened. The severity of the bite will depend on the location of the bite, the size of the pet, the amount and concentration of venom injected, the rate of venom uptake, and the amount of time that elapses before treatment. Snake bites generally produce intense pain, bruising, swelling, and weakness due to low blood pressure. Your pet may also begin panting rapidly.
Snake Safety for Dogs
Native snakes are an important part of our ecosystem in Florida, and knowing how to exist alongside them is key to enjoying the outdoors with your pet safely. Consider the following important reminders when it comes to snake safety for dogs:
- Train your dog – Making sure your dog has a good grasp of basic obedience training will go a long way toward keeping them safe. Your dog should come when called and be able to respond to basic commands, such as “leave it”.
- Stay together – Snakes are shy by nature and will only attack if they are approached. Keep your dog leashed while on walks and hikes, and don’t allow them to investigate any wildlife.
- Protect your property – Clean up overgrown brush and grasses, and remove wood and debris piles where snakes like to hide.
- Be careful near water – Rattlesnakes, water moccasins, and others can swim, and what looks like a stick floating in the water may be a snake!
If your dog is bitten by a snake, it should be considered a life-threatening emergency. Seek emergency medical care for your pet immediately. If you have any further questions about snake safety for dogs, don’t hesitate to contact your partners in pet care at Kings Trail Animal Hospital.