Snakes can be a tempting curiosity for dogs. Many are harmless and want nothing to do with your pooch, but all it takes is one small venomous critter to wreak untold havoc.
That doesn't mean you should skip walks and other outdoor activities; instead, you must be proactive. Don't willingly invite this catastrophe into your lives; learn how to protect your buddy from a snake attack instead. Taking a few preventative measures will greatly reduce the risk of snakebites.
Before learning how to protect your pup, it's important to know what you're up against. Your location plays a key part in the types of snakes you may encounter, so take the time to study your local species. Most snakes aren't a threat, but there's a high chance you have a few varieties that hold the potential to cause harm.
Copperheads and rattlesnakes are the most widespread pit vipers. They emit a hemotoxin, which ruptures blood cells. Water moccasins do the same. Coral snakes have separate venom pouches that aren't attached to the fangs. They'll ooze neurotoxins into the wounds, causing nerve damage.
Snakes aren't an enemy and don't actively seek out problems. They usually only strike if they feel a sense of unavoidable danger. The best thing you can do if you notice a snake nearby is to ignore the situation. Leave it alone and go about your business in the other direction. After all, snakes can only strike from a distance of half their body lengths.
Snakes will try to avoid you whenever possible. However, dogs can instigate an attack. With their natural hunting and playful instincts, they may be looking for prey or a toy. Harassing a snake will often result in some warning signs, such as coiling or lunging before a strike occurs. If your pooch encounters a snake and you see this behavior, get away before tragedy ensues.
Part of this has to do with the season, and part of it is luck. Venomous snakes tend to be out in the warmer months and show increased movement in the afternoon or evening. This isn't saying your dog is not at risk when outside in the morning or at night since many snakes prefer nighttime activity during hot days. Always be vigilant.
Seasonally, snakes have full venom glands in the spring after their winter dormancy. But previous strikes also play a part. If the critter has recently released venom, the bite will be less severe. Also, juvenile snakes are inclined to release more venom than adults who, though rare, may just inflict a dry bite.
Prevent your dog from seeking out and encouraging a bite by using a short leash whenever you're taking a walk. Whether in the woods or on a sidewalk, a short leash assures the most control so your buddy doesn't stick their nose where it shouldn't belong. Keeping your pup leashed and close to you is arguably the best way to prevent snakebites.
When you and Fido are out for a leisurely stroll, only frequent areas that are maintained. Of course, a snake can be anywhere, but there's a better chance you'll avoid this danger by visiting places with short grass. High growth provides snakes with camouflage and protects them from their natural enemies, so they're more likely to lurk in overgrown fields than your local park.
Not only does grass play a part in harboring hidden snakes, but other natural features also pose potential problems. Especially in a forest or overgrown area, fallen trees and rocks are a haven for their refuge. And while a snake won't actively come out to hunt you down, your dog can easily unearth one from a hiding space if you don't stop them from disturbing the area.
Watering holes are a social and vital hub of the animal kingdom. Puddles, ponds, and any body of water are hotbeds for snakes. Don't approach these areas.
Food also lures them since they perceive it as bait. Snakes will wait for a hungry rodent or other small animals; then, they'll pounce. Steer clear of birdseed, pet food, and other attractions.
Do what you can to discourage snakes from encroaching on your property. Remove any rocks and branches, and if you have woodpiles, store them away from your home. Clear away toys and tools. Fill in any holes. Make sure to cut back all growth along walkways.
Snake barriers are simple mesh fences that discourage these critters from crawling over or under them. They're a great tool to prevent yard infiltration. It should be at least 36 inches high and 12 inches underground when installing one.
Chemical snake repellents harm mammals, so use a natural deterrent instead. Spraying ammonia or vinegar around your house or yard works well. Sprinkling cinnamon also wards off snakes.
Of course, not all dogs want to seek out snakes. Though many canines are looking for fun or prey, quite a few have a natural do-not-disturb instinct. Some sense snakes and want no parts of them, so pay attention to your pooch. If they seem standoffish or afraid of a certain spot, avoid it at all costs. There's a high chance they're aware of something you can't see.
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