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A friend, who's lived in the neighborhood for a while, told me that he's lost two dogs to "blood poisoning," possibly related to a snake bite. I did a bit of research and it looks like our area is home to the Timber Rattlesnake, the Northern Copperhead and the Eastern Cottonmouth.

How do you detect a snake bite in a dog? How is it treated? What do you do to protect yours? I've been scouring Amazon for snake repellant for the yard. Do you have any recommendations on that front? Anything else I can do to protect her? Many thanks!
 

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A friend, who's lived in the neighborhood for a while, told me that he's lost two dogs to "blood poisoning," possibly related to a snake bite. I did a bit of research and it looks like our area is home to the Timber Rattlesnake, the Northern Copperhead and the Eastern Cottonmouth. We just killed a western diamondback last week, it was very close to my fence :eek:

How do you detect a snake bite in a dog? How is it treated? What do you do to protect yours? I've been scouring Amazon for snake repellant for the yard. Do you have any recommendations on that front? Anything else I can do to protect her? Many thanks! I did a lot of research on snake repellents and the only thing I found is that they don't work.

I ended up installing this mesh hardware cloth all around my yard to keep them out. Mat 0.12" Mesh Hardware Cloth | Wayfair

There is also a "snake fence" but it didn't work for us because we have so much rock here. Snakes Control | Snake Barriers | Catch Snakes | Stop Snakes | Prevent Snakes | Keep Snakes Out ? Snake Fence Systems

This is the rattler we killed.
 

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Ugh! Glad you got that rattler before it got you! And thanks for the fencing tips. I'll get on it this weekend (weather's been getting warmer, so I'm guessing those suckers will start moving around soon.)
 

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Are you sure of the data you got (in DC area)

Washington DC Arthropod Biodiversity Project Colubridae......

The copperhead is not normally a lethal bite to a GSD. Several of our dogs on the team have been bit by a copperhead. We normally give a large dose of oral benedryl immediately and take the dog to the vet. If you did not see the dog get bit you will see the swelling and the tooth marks. Any swelling like that on a dog would get the same treatment.

When we go up into the mountains, there actually ARE timber rattlers. I carry injectable benedryl and dexamethasone as some areas are much greater than 30 minutes to get to a vet and the Timber Rattler can kill a dog or a person.

There are ways to snakeproof a dog using an ecollar. Not too common in the east and very common out west. I am frequently in the woods off trail in snake habitat with my dog and just use common sense.
 

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Thanks for the link you posted. It actually helped me calm down a bit.

Unfortunately, there seem to be a whole bunch of different accounts of what snakes are common around here (Like this one: Virginia's (friendly) venomous snakes - RVANews, or this one Snakes of Virginia), so I'm not sure exaclty how big the danger is, but, as with most things where the pup's concerned, I'd like to err on the side of caution.

I'll totally follow your advice on the benedryl and dexamethasone, when we go hiking. How do you go about the ecollar training? Do you just stop them, if they go nosing under any logs/in holes, etc.?
 

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Ugh! Glad you got that rattler before it got you! And thanks for the fencing tips. I'll get on it this weekend (weather's been getting warmer, so I'm guessing those suckers will start moving around soon.)
Me too...I never heard one rattle before but knew what it was right away and I will never forget it!

If you decide to use the hardware cloth let me know and I will take a picture of how I secured mine. You have to seal the bottom of really good or they will crawl underneath it, happened to one of our neighbors.
 

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I have not done the aversion training.....my dog is a cadaver dog so I want him nosing around. Not sure the vet will give you these drugs without a good reason...anyone can buy one benadryl but u still need to get to a vet....that is your first line
 

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Me too...I never heard one rattle before but knew what it was right away and I will never forget it!

If you decide to use the hardware cloth let me know and I will take a picture of how I secured mine. You have to seal the bottom of really good or they will crawl underneath it, happened to one of our neighbors.
Yes please! I'm gonna measure the perimeter of the yard once I get home and order the mesh.
 

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I do believe you are probably overestimating the risk given your area. What I was trying to say (from my phone) was that you can get ORAL benedryl over the counter (but chat with your vet!) -- the only reason I was able to get the injectables is we have had off-trail searches in remote rugged areas inaccessible by vehicles for upwards of 45 minutes, and 2 hours+ to the nearest dog ER. Most of NOVA is pretty civilized.

The Timber Rattler is not an aggressive snake and does a lot of posturing before it strikes. The copperhead is the most likely bite because they just freeze up and you may step on them, but the venom is not so horrible; the main issue is infection.

I really don't think you have to contend with water moccasins though. Maybe later with global warming.
 

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Thanks for the sanity check :) I've been reading up on the snakes (usual habitats, nocturnal, etc.) and feel less panicky, but will still get the mesh fence set up, just in case.

I'll also pick up some oral benadryl, since we go hiking up in the Shenandoah pretty often, so, if God forbid something were to happen, getting her to a vet might take a while. (But then again, I have my walking stick/hiking boots, so if I spot the snake before Della does, it shouldn't be that big of of a problem.)
 

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That should also be in YOUR first aid kit as it is your first line for bee stings etc. I have been running around off trail and in prime snake habitat for about 10 years and have met 6 copperheads, 2 water moccasins (in my area) and a teammate saw a number of timber rattlers in the mountains. Rock outcroppings and around water are places to be more careful. Always look before you step over a log or put your hand on something. Be nice to the black snakes and scarlet king snakes. They eat the bad guys.
 

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The "snake people" seem like good guys, you should make contact with the people who have antivenom and then youll know who to call.
 

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Heck no to snakes. I have snake traps in my yard. They are pretty much large glue boards inside a flat box or black tubing. Snake crawls in, gets stuck..........
I have someone check them and release the snakes far, far away.......they come unstuck with vegetable oil.
 

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You do NOT make contact with "snake guys" for antivenon. You go to a vet where they administer the antivenon, along with IV fluids, IV antibiotics, and strong IV pain medications. About 600-800$ a bottle unfortunately. You even attempt to give it yourself (not like anyone would sell you some), you'll kill your dog for sure.

Just treated my first rattlesnake bite of the year Saturday, dog bit on the paw. It went home yesterday morning. I see roughly 5-10 bites a year, working ER medicine in the foothills. Now the rattlers we're dealing with more often then not ARENT going to kill a dog, and if you give antivenon you're more likely just treating to lesson symptoms.

The snake vaccine as far as I'm aware is rather worthless.

I am planning on doing the snake aversion training with Berlin this summer. Basically they take rattlers that have had their venom sacks surgically removed. They also put an ecollar on your dog. And then they basically let the snake bite the dog and they shock the dog for going near the snake. The dogs learn avoidance real fast. I've found it in Colorado for about 70$.

Just because your neighbor "suspects blood poisoning from snake bites" doesn't make it true. Does he KNOW his dogs were bitten? It's pretty obvious when you have a venomous bite. The entire area becomes EXTREMELY swollen and painful. The skin turns very black and bruised. The animal is pretty painful. Did he take them to the vet for treatment? I've traveled and camped across this entire country with dogs and never have had a snake problem. I work in emergency medicine in some of the best hiking and camping mountains in the country and only see a handful of bites. Don't get me wrong, dogs get bit. But it's not this huge scare where you need to hunt down every snake alive.


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We had a lovely 6 foot black snake that had taken up residence in our yard and I don't know what happened to it. My chipmunks were no problem until it disappeared then their population exploded. :(.

The risk is much more singificant in the arid west and southwest than in the east.

I think most folks in the east who get bit are religious snake handlers and drunks and, of course, nosy dogs. Dogs seem to have an easier go of it than people though.

This puts it in perspective. (And FL has MANY MANY MANY poisonous snakes)
http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/venomous_snake_faqs.shtml
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Does anyone have info on snake aversion trainings in the greater-DC Metro area/VA/MD? (So far everything I've been able to dig up is on the West Coast.)

I can get the ecollar no problem and try to do it myslef, but finding a de-fanged rattler...might be a bit more of a challenge :laugh:

(And thanks again for all the useful tips from everyone.)
 

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Just because your neighbor "suspects blood poisoning from snake bites" doesn't make it true. Does he KNOW his dogs were bitten? It's pretty obvious when you have a venomous bite. The entire area becomes EXTREMELY swollen and painful. The skin turns very black and bruised. The animal is pretty painful. Did he take them to the vet for treatment?

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That I don't know. How long before symptoms typically show up after a bite? (I guess a big part of my concern is that GSDs are pretty furry, so I'm scared that if she were to get bit and I'm not around, I might not notice it until it's too late and the vet can't do anything.)
 

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That I don't know. How long before symptoms typically show up after a bite? (I guess a big part of my concern is that GSDs are pretty furry, so I'm scared that if she were to get bit and I'm not around, I might not notice it until it's too late and the vet can't do anything.)
With a few hours you notice pretty severe swelling. Pain, discoloration of the skin. Most common areas are muzzle and paws. So these are pretty easy places to see

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We live too far from a vet for my dogs to survive a snake bite (from an eastern brown). I just try not to worry about it too much. I keep our yard very tidy, lawns always mowed, no long grass, no junk, nothing for them to hide in.......this is one of the best ways to make your yard snake free.....don't give them anywhere to hide. I do worry about it when we are doing stock work in the paddocks but not much we can do about it......aversion training wouldn't help as our snakes don't give warnings and just bite if stepped on but I can't think of anyone losing a working dog to snake bite so it's not common.....usually it's the dogs that actively seek and destroy that get into trouble so aversion training would be good in this case.
 
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