Dogs and Copperhead bites
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Thread: Dogs and Copperhead bites

  1. #1
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    Dogs and Copperhead bites

    WARNING - Very Long post. Also if you love snakes and don't believe in killing them then you might not want to read.

    Hello Everyone I'm new here and wanted to share some of my experience on Copperhead snake bites and dogs.

    First of all let me state that I am NOT a expert and any advice including mine should never be taken over a professional veterinarian. This post is just from my personal experience and what effects one dog may not effect another one and vice versa.

    I live out at a private lake in kinda S. Mid E. Texas between Corsicana and Waco and these last two years I have seen more copperheads than in the fifteen + years that I have lived here. It all started last year. I don't know if people are clearing the woods on the other side or if it's because of the bad drought conditions or what but I keep getting snakes in my yard. Last year I had about 6 of them and this year I have already killed 12

    I have to kill the snakes because my dogs won't leave them alone once they're spotted. I have a black Lab who is excellent at spotting them. She can see them from a mile away, Lol. Anytime she's barking at the ground then I KNOW there is a snake.

    I also have a small mixed dog at around 18 lbs named Gizmo and a Jack Russell Terrier who's around 23 lbs named Mr. Willis. Both dogs have been bitten by these snakes.

    The Terrier - Mr Willis was the first to be bitten. I heard the dogs outside making a lot of noise so me and my brother ran out and as soon as we went out the door Mr Willis turned around and looked at us and was bitten. He got bit in the shoulder blade and whined and cried alot. This was one of the worse ones. He was highly agitated and his shoulder swelled up alot. He acted like he was drunk and wouldn't settle down. We kept him calm, put a benadryl down his throat and petted him. The second bite was Gizmo. Again, we heard dogs barking and went out, they had a snake cornered at a tree - seems like they always corner them at this same tree and while I was running over there Gizmo jumped back and yelped. After I killed the snake I inspected him and found the fang marks on his paw. His paw swelled up pretty big. He whined a bit at first but seemed okay. He limped for a while but the swelling started going down in a couple of hours and by the end of the night he was walking fine again. The third and worse looking bite was Mr. Willis again. I use some garden type clippers that cut tree limbs to catch the snakes. The clippers have extendable handles so I can get some good distance and I just go over and grab the snake with it. It won't kill the snake but they get pinched in the blades and can't get loose then I can just lay them on the ground with the caught snake and chop their heads off with my shovel. So we heard them barking and went out and there was a good sized snake headed right for my Black Lab who's tied up. She's the one who always spots them so I ran over and I kept trying to grab it but it was moving so fast I couldn't get it. My brother was holding onto the dogs so couldn't help me light up the area and I finally caught it right before it reached my lab but I didn't get it close to the head. I caught it closer to the tail and I was lifting it up when Mr. Willis got away from my brother. He ran over and I didn't see him and then he jumped at the snake which struck out hitting him in the face. It caught him under the chin.

    I was so scared and thought Mr. Willis was going to die. His nose swelled up and was bigger than his head. He looked awful. He wasn't as agitated as he was the first time he got bit but kept shaking his head. I made my brother hold onto him while I put on gloves because of the bites to his chin which had a bit of blood and I didn't want to get any type of venom on me and then put a benadryl in him. A few hours later his swelling started to go down and by the morning he looked mostly normal.

    I know it's just supposedly a myth that copperheads travel in pairs but let me tell you'll that every single snake I have caught, within the next 30 minutes and sometimes sooner I have caught another one. I have never killed one snake without it's "partner" showing up and I 100% believe that they DO travel in pairs. The snakes seem to be coming from the woods but always end up over by my Lab who spots them very well. 4 of the snakes were spotted by me and my brother because they were maybe 3 feet from my front porch where we sit.

    Copperhead bites are rarely fatal to dogs. I have read alot of forums and there's alot of people who will tell you that they're always fatal. That if a dog gets bit it's dead. This is simply NOT true. I'm not saying that they can't be fatal but all of my experience and research shows them not to be. Out of the Pit Vipers here in Tx. the copperhead is the least venomous. They give birth to live young ones - they do not lay eggs and can have up to 20 although they only normally have 2 to 6. They are lay and wait predators and will find a mouse trail or hole and just sit there and wait on it. They will also just sit in a yard very still and wait for a person to pass them by. They do not like people and will try to run or sit still to escape notice. Most human bites are from people trying to handle them or kill them. The best thing to do is let them go if you can.

    Only around 3% of dogs die from a copperhead bite whereas 10% of dogs given an anti-venom could die from an allergic reaction. Probably most dog deaths to copperheads are from a allergic reaction to the venom. Now I'm not saying it's safe for them to be bitten but they do have a better chance of surviving it than people seem to think. I don't know if this applies to small inside breeds such as chiwawas (I don't think I spelled that right, Lol.)

    How to treat a dogs snake bite: First of all, give them a Benadryl. 10mg for small dogs, two of them for big dogs. Clean the bite wound to help prevent infection. Do not use any type of lotion or anything like that on it. Just use soap and water. Give antibiotics to help relieve the swelling. Keep them calm and reassure them. DO NOT try to put any kind of tournaquet on them (Don't think I spelled that right either). Do not cut the wound or try to suck out the poison. Do not apply heat or ice to the wound.

    Take your animal to a vet as soon as possible if you can, just remain calm and don't drive like a maniac. Chances are good that your dog is going to be fine. I hope this may help some. I had to look through so much information, some of it was great others were downright misleading. I know snakes are a part of the ecosystem and all that and I do feel bad for killing them but when you have this many snakes in your yard and your babies won't leave them alone then you have no other choice. Plus I don't like snakes, especially copperheads, their heads are smaller than their bodies and they just look freaky like weird aliens. I don't like spiders much either - they remind me of those little aliens in the movie aliens that stick to your face and put the aliens inside of you. Like they're walking nuckles - /shivers.

    Take care everyone. Please always take your vets advice first.
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  3. #2
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    Just killed one the other day!
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    Good information, do not worry about your spelling, I am in the same boat, if you can make it out it is good enough!! I do not know if cooperheads are in the rattlesnake family, thats what we have here. I live on a mountain, and on the rocky side drop off a long way down, thats were they live and most stay in that area. From Oct to May, we do not have to worry about them. I would think some of your dogs may have built up some immunity. I keep the grass cut short around my property so that the snakes do not like. One last thing, and I feel you know this, rattlesnakes can even with there head cut off can still bite and inject venom. Take care!
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    Senior Member Spicy1_VV's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    I love snakes!!!!

    Dogs have a pretty good chance of surviving snake bites, just depends on the dogs. Our dog lost her tail but survived, our friends have had a few dogs bitten without death one old female nailed right in the face but she survived too. These snakes were western diamondbacks. The Diamondback does not have a particularly toxic venom either but they are very likely to bite and give a good dose of venom. Still many dogs survive.

    I know the feeling of snakes getting bad. This year we are doing ok, last year was crazy with bullsnakes. The dogs were killing them frequently, I was spying them often, had a few calls of freaked people to have them removed (of course they thought they were rattlesnakes) and there was 1 in the house at least every other month. This year doesn't seem to be too bad so far.

    Good luck to you and your dogs.
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    Senior Member CinnamintStick's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    We have Mojave Rattlesnake-Crotalus scutulatus. The often mis-named "Mojave Green" has the most potent venom of any rattlesnake in North America. Its poison is about 16 times more powerful than that of the Sidewinder. I don't think my dogs would live. Or me for that matter. We are to far from medical help. I noticed our feed store had a dog trainning class on teaching your dogs to avoid snakes. I think that is a good idea.
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    Senior Member aero4ever's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    Thank you for posting this. I usually don't read a post all the way through if it's really long cause I have the attention span of a flea, but I read yours.

    I take my dogs into the woods every morning 7/24 and snakes have always been a concern for me. I've seen them out there, a huge one striked at one of my dogs and it was either a warning strike or missed cause there was no reaction to a bite from my dog. Too me a snake is a snake and they all creep me out and I avoid them, course I can't tell poisonous ones from non, but doesn't matter.
    Everything I know, I learned from my dogs!

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    Senior Member CinnamintStick's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    If your dog is bite try to kill the snake so your vet can treat your dog corectly. I was just reading a story where it says "It ended up being a very expensive adventure, with a bill totaling more than $10,000. Doctors used four bottles of antivenin, borrowing some from neighboring clinics, at $767 per bottle." Wow that alot of money for a snake bite. This was the Mojave Green. This is my local paper.

    Miniature dachshund survives bite from Mojave Green

    http://www.vvdailypress.com/news/gre...re_mojave.html
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    Senior Member Spicy1_VV's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamintStick View Post
    We have Mojave Rattlesnake-Crotalus scutulatus. The often mis-named "Mojave Green" has the most potent venom of any rattlesnake in North America. Its poison is about 16 times more powerful than that of the Sidewinder. I don't think my dogs would live. Or me for that matter. We are to far from medical help. I noticed our feed store had a dog trainning class on teaching your dogs to avoid snakes. I think that is a good idea.
    I'd have to agree there, a dog is not likely to survive Mojave bite, they are one of the more venomous snakes out there. In TX the Mojave is top but it is not as widespread as other snake species so less people/dogs to come in contact with,
    copperhead or diamodback is less fatal but more common.
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    Senior Member Dogstar's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    This is just a really good year (for them, anyway ;P) for copperheads, apparently. We've had a lot down at the farm (Falls County, an hour and a bit south of the OP), and my friend Beth (Txcollies) killed one last night at her place out in Weatherford.
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    Hi,

    My wife and I started a site that is open to all to add stories others can benefit from. It stems from a cancer scare we had with our retriever. So we tell our story so if someone else is in a simlar situation, our info may be of some help. We wish we would have known more as we went through it.

    Like your copperhead story, we feel every dog (and dog owner) has a story. We call them "Dog Tails." We hope to build a library of helpful information from every-day dog lovers, like us. We are just getting started. Please feel free to visit and add your "Tail". Thanks.

    http://www.doggedlydetermined.com/communityStories.cfm
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    Senior Member Mdawn's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    We get snakes in our yard a few times a year. Some of them are copperheads...but they are usually already dead when we find them. I have no idea what kills them...they don't have any sign of injuries like they had a run in with an animal or something, so that is a bit of a mystery. We don't use rat poison or anything in our house for mice for fear the dogs and cat would get into it so its unlikely that they ate a mouse that had come in contact with poison.

    Anyway, I live in a rural area. Most of our property are hay fields that surrounding farmers come and cut down for us twice a year and they get to keep the hay for their cattle. It does help if you keep the brush cut back a fair distance from the house and don't leave out piles of wood or other objects that they can get into. My boyfriend swears that common black snakes keep copperheads away (not sure if that is true or not) but we don't generally kill a snake as long as its a fair distance from the house. If it does come too close to the house, my boyfriend will try to relocate it to the surrounding woods instead of outright killing it. However, there have been at least 2 occasions where the snakes wouldn't "cooperate" and he did end up killing the snake. Personally, I won't step a foot out of the house if I know a snake is in the yard. I am terrified of snakes to the point of it being a phobia.

    I've heard that copperhead bites aren't generally deadly unless to the very young, elderly and those who are already sick. I would assume that the same would be generally true for animals. However, if I knew that any of my dogs or cats had be bitten by one, I'd immediately be on the phone to the vet and/or bringing them in. It's better to be safe than sorry. None of my current animals have been bitten by any sort of snake that I'm aware of.

    However, two of my previous dogs did "gang" up on a black snake several years ago and they ripped it to shreds. Also, one of my cats have killed a snake. This same cat has come in other contact with other snakes that I've witnessed and the cat was just too agile for the snake and easily dodged and jumped away from the strikes.

    The Dogs: Eddie the Lab & Uallis the Mastiff
    The Cats: Max, Gus & Lexi
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    just wondering if they did any aerial spraying in your location, thats not too healthy for humans. If the snakes are just dieing, thats a bad sign.
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    Even where I live in So CA high desert you will find dead snakes with no sign of anything wrong. I don't think there has been any spraying here. This is a picture I took of one that I found earlier this year. To me it looks like it just died. I did not see any marks on it. Last year there was not many snakes due to our drought. There was not as many rodents, and quail either. This year we had a tiny bit more snow so the weeds grew and the whole food chain started back up.
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    Quote Originally Posted by aero4ever View Post
    Thank you for posting this. I usually don't read a post all the way through if it's really long cause I have the attention span of a flea, but I read yours.
    Me too Aero...the attention span I mean. I love snakes and luckily all I get here in the 'burbs of Houston are "garter snakes" which I usually find dead in the house because Mort (probably) got a hold of them. Don't know what I would do if I found a big snake..

    Couldn't a snake die if it didn't find food...?


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    Senior Member Mdawn's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    Its just the Copperheads that we find dead. I don't think that I specified that previously. One of the them was coiled up in the side yard and just looked like it was sunning itself. After closer inspection, my boyfriend saw it was dead. It looked to be a young snake too. Also, last summer we found one on the side of our driveway...also dead. It's a little weird but I honestly never thought much of it. We don't have any other kind of animals that that have died without apparent reason...just the Copperheads.

    The Dogs: Eddie the Lab & Uallis the Mastiff
    The Cats: Max, Gus & Lexi
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    Dear everyone who read my post. I Need to write and update on some new information. I went to my vet the other day and talked to him about these copperheads and he said that he doesn't like to give dogs Benadryl because it can cause permanent psychological effects so he gives them a shot - I can't remember what it's called but I think it starts with a D. I'll ask him again and get the name. He gave me two syringes with it for my two dogs just in case they do get bitten and told me to give it to them in the meat of their thigh. He also told me that antibiotics do not get the swelling down. I read and talked to other vets online and they all say to take them but I TRUST my vet he is very good.

    So I guess if it's an emergency then you can give them benadryl. I can attest to the fact that it did help my dogs alot but I don't want to chance causing them problems.

    Also, there is a Rattlesnake Vaccine that you can give your dogs once a year. Go talk to your vet about it. He said that people say it really helps with Copperheads too. And since rattlesnakes are much more deadlier to our little babies then I'm going to get them vaccinated. The venom is the only thing to worry about - infections and other problems can be as deadly if not more so it's a good idea to always have them looked at.

    He said he had a pit bull in a while back that got bitten on the tongue and his tongue swelled up so huge. He gave it those shots and the owner just kept dousing the tongue with water and it went down in a few hours. Poor baby but he's doing okay now.

    Like I said in my first post - always talk to your vet and take their advice over anyone elses. We all learn as we go and I hope my OP didn't cause any problems in anyone's pets. Take care everyone. As soon as I get the name of that shot I will post it. I'll also create a new post with this info to make sure everyone sees it. Take care.
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    Killing the snakes in your yard is not the answer. It will not stop them from coming back. There are snake proof fences that you can build around your property if you are that concerned about it. It is not hard to do.

    Also if you have had such an issue i suggest strong avoidance training instilled into your dogs. There are trainers that will do this for $75 or so.

    Also, of course there is the vacine.

    Rather than killing these animals it is just as easy to remove them from your property. If you can swing a shovel then you can shovel the snake into a bucket and dump it in the woods.


    There are reptile people who would more than happly do this for you as well, for free.


    I repeat that killing them will not make them go away at all. I urge you to simply move them. These are animals too, just like your dogs. The cute animals are not the only ones that deserve to live. Just my two cents. thanks
    Last edited by Criosphynx; 08-10-2008 at 11:00 AM.


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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    I feel so lucky to live in Maine.(most of the time!) I know we have a reputation for having cold weather and snowstorms, but we don't have poisonous snakes, thank goodness. We also don't have earthquakes, tornadoes (usually) very few hurricanes, floods, or mudslides, no volcanoes, scorpions, tarantulas, wildfires, etc. I am so glad I don't have to worry about Ruby getting bitten by a snake. I think I will trade having to dress her in fleece in the winter for snake bites any day.
    It's a GIRL! Ruby Mae Converse, adopted 10/5/07
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  20. #19
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    Quote Originally Posted by Dogstar View Post
    This is just a really good year (for them, anyway ;P) for copperheads, apparently. We've had a lot down at the farm (Falls County, an hour and a bit south of the OP), and my friend Beth (Txcollies) killed one last night at her place out in Weatherford.
    Yep, we killed it. Copperheads and Chicken Snakes give us the most trouble. But they are usually shot before they can cause any trouble.

    I've had a goat, cat and two dogs bit by snakes. What kind I'm not sure, although I'm willing to bet copperhead. They swelled up and that was it.

    I've heard from other breeders that rattlesnakes do more damage, copperheads do very little if any to dogs.
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    Senior Member sw_df27's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs and Copperhead bites

    we put out moth balls and it keeps the snakes away
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