Copperhead Snakes Biting Dogs: Helpful Information

What do you do when your dog gets bitten by a venomous snake like a Copperhead? Dogs tend to take an interest in snakes, whether the snake is venomous or not. I’ve researched some ways you can help your dog if it gets bitten by a Copperhead snake.

So what if your dog is bitten by a Copperhead Snake? If your dog is bitten by a Copperhead Snake, it can get sick and die, so you should take it to the vet immediately. Dogs are not immune to snake venom. Do not wash the area where your dog was bitten before taking them to the vet.

The Copperhead snake is a pit viper which originated in North America. It is most common in the southeastern states. There are several snakes that are similar to it in origin and appearance, but I’m only going to discuss the Copperhead. I’ll address some things like how to protect your dog from a snake bite, how to identify Copperhead wounds, how to treat the affected area, and other helpful tips about what to do if a snake bites your dog.

Symptoms of a Copperhead Bite in a Dog

If you have never seen a Copperhead, or you don’t know what symptoms of a snake bite look like, this list of symptoms will help. Your dog may experience any one or all of these symptoms.

You’ll know if your dog was bitten at least by a venomous snake with this list, if not a Copperhead. Most non-venomous snakes do not have fangs which is a good indication of whether or not your dog has been bitten by a poisonous snake.

Non-venomous snakes will leave a mark tender to the touch but there won’t be any first indication other than that. Venomous snakes, like the Copperhead, have some quick symptoms and other gradual symptoms. Here are some examples:

Immediate Symptoms:

  • Swelling and redness
  • Excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth
  • Bleeding

More Gradual Symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea/Incontinence
  • Sudden collapse
  • Paralysis

The belated symptoms may not show up for a few hours. The more extreme symptoms denote a pet is in critical danger. If your dog comes to you with the slower symptoms, a vet is the first place you should take your pet.

Note: If you are too far away from the vet to get immediate attention for your canine, there are some things you can do to help slow the danger.

How to Treat Your Dog’s Snake Bite

Every dog’s snake bite, whether poisonous or non-poisonous, should be treated by a veterinary professional. They are not both dangerous, but Copperhead bites (and any snake bite) are serious and should not be taken lightly.  Both bites should be treated differently.

When a dog is bitten by a Copperhead, the venom is released into the bloodstream. As it travels, more and more symptoms start to appear. This can cause you and your pet to become anxious and worried. Try not to freak out and just stay calm. If you are calm, you can calm down your pet. The calmer the dog, the slower the process of venom distribution will be.

If you are not sure your pet has been bitten by a Copperhead and is in real danger, take it to the vet ASAP! In the meantime, here are some things you can do to treat your dog until you reach the vet. 

Poisonous

Remember that poisonous snakes have fangs. The first indication that your pet has been bitten would be what kind of mark the bite made. If there were clearly a set of fangs in the bite, then your canine has been bitten by a venomous snake.

For this type of bite, wrap the affected area in a way that will cut off the circulation, again, limit the flow of venom to the blood. 

(Note: Dog owners have mentioned that you can give your pet a dose of Benedryl and they’ll be right as rain in a couple of days. It’s preferable you go to a professional to prevent infections and allergies, but Benedryl has worked for some dog owners in the past.)

 Copperheads have fangs, but a little bit of information on the non-venomous snake will help you to treat your dog as well. 

Note: Do not suck out the venom or wash the bite! 

Non-poisonous

 It is not mandatory to take your dog to the vet if it is bitten by a non-venomous snake. But it is advised to take your dog to the vet because an infection can occur. If your dog is bitten by a non-venomous snake the wound should be cleaned and your dog should be given antibiotics or anti-inflammatories.

Can Copperheads Hurt Your Dog?

The Copperhead is a pit viper. This means that the Copperhead is a venomous snake with heat sensory vision. They are not aggressive, but they will bite if they are irritated.  This is a problem if you have a dog that likes to chase and/or agitate snakes and other animals.

It can be fun to watch them run around the yard chasing pigeons, birds, and mice, but a venomous snake is an entirely different matter. If your dog is chasing a snake, (copperhead or otherwise)  you should take great care so that it does not get bitten. Dogs can die from snake bites, so just be careful if your area has a large amount of Copperheads or other poisonous snakes.

Copperheads may have a “dry bite” capability, but they are still poisonous.

Even newborn Copperheads have fully developed fangs with venom as toxic as an adult Copperhead.

The Copperhead is not always dangerous. In their first bite, copperheads generally start out with a warning. These bites are called “dry bites.” They are non-venomous and cannot do much to hurt your pet. Copperheads do not always “dry bite,” but there is a good chance they will. In which case, your pet is not in much danger.

Identifying a Copperhead Before it Bites Your Dog

Copperheads are reddish and gold in color with hourglass-shaped bands on its scales. They can be 18 to 36 inches in length. This snake is thick-bodied with keeled scales. Females are longer in length than the males, but males have longer tails. 

There are varying types of Copperheads, with some being a bit more grey in color than the others. The younger Copperheads are greyer and some even have a single row of scales on the underside of their bellies. 

Another unique and interesting feature of the Copperhead is the yellow tail which can be used to lure prey. Little does it know it’s following something that would be leading it to its death. Poor little snake prey! 

If you are curious about where this snake likes to make its home, a few paragraphs down is a description of where they like to dwell. This is also great information for you to have to protect and be aware of for you and your pet. It’s good knowledge to have if you are taking preventative measures.

A Bit More About Benadryl

Benadryl is safe to use on dogs and is a common home remedy for snake bites. It matters what type of Benedryl you give your dog. Yes, Benedryl can help with snakes bites.

But, you need to make sure that it does not contain two ingredients; acetaminophen and pseudoephedrine. These two ingredients are not safe for dogs and you should not give them any Benedryl which contains these two ingredients.

There is a chemical in dog’s bodies called Histamine. To assist in the relief of the reactionary symptoms attributed to Histamine, we can give the dog Benadryl. This is why we call Benadryl an antihistamine, because it helps calm down the acidic effects of histamine. 

Giving your dog Benadryl is basically a means to make them more comfortable. It is not a way to get rid of the venom, but a way to calm down the pain which comes from the venom coursing through your dog’s blood. If you are dealing with a venomous snake which has a higher toxicity of venom, you need to go to your vet so they can prescribe some antibiotics. 

Once again, Benadryl is not a cure. It is a way for your dog to be a bit more comfortable and relaxed as the symptoms pass, and recovery is in progress. Click here to find Benadryl for dogs on Amazon.

The best form of treatment will always be to take your dog to the vet.

How Long Does it Take For Your Pet to Recover?

Depending on when you caught the bite, and how long it took you to take your dog to the vet will determine how long the recovery is. Some recovery times can be quite extensive and your dog can be permanently affected by the bite. These recovery times can range from 3 days to several weeks, it just depends.

There are several factors that play into whether or not your dog will recover from a Copperhead bite. Most dogs will be okay, and the recovery time will be longer. If your dog is not recovering as fast as it should, you might want to take into account how old it is, and/or if your dog was not bitten by a Copperhead.

Being venomous, Copperheads are dangerous, but they aren’t generally the cause of canine deaths. It’s more likely your pet was bitten by something with a bit more potency to its venom if it’s looking like it’ll die.

In this case, if not treated in time, even a trip to the vet cannot save your dog. The best advice that can be given would be to get your dog to the vet as soon as you recognize it has been bitten. 

Where Do Copperheads Live?

With all this information about Copperheads biting dogs and the dangers of snake bites, you may be wondering how to protect your dog in the first place. It can be very costly to not be prepared with the knowledge necessary to protect your dog form Copperhead bites.  

It may be helpful for you to know where Copperheads live. We have already mentioned what side of the country they like to spend their time (Eastern United States). What hasn’t been addressed is the type of environment they like to inhabit.

Copperheads are commonly linked to outcrops and rocky areas. Other places they might like to live would be in deciduous forests and woody areas. You might find them in places where there are a lot of rodents and insects. To name of few of those places: Stone walls, compost piles, under decaying stumps, abandoned building debris, or under large, flat, stones.

Copperheads live where they are closest to their prey. They need places to hide so they can launch out at their prey. They are the type of snake that sneaks up on their prey and then attacks. Young Copperheads even use their tail as a decoy worm to catch smaller prey when they are growing and need to eat.

The most snakes bites recorded are during the warm summer months when these snakes are most active. Copperheads are cold-blooded and come out to sit in the sun to keep warm. They’ll probably be more present during hotter months and in highly rodent populated areas. 

Other Venomous Snakes to Look Out For

Black Diamondback rattlesnake

Found in the western half of North America in places like British Columbia and Mexico. It has a high potency venom that attacks specifically your nerve endings. It requires more antivenom to treat because of the high potency.

Water Moccasin (Cottonmouth)

More commonly seen in the water as their name alludes. They tend to be near more moist areas. The Water Moccasin is one of the few snakes which has fish as a large part of its diet.

Timber rattlesnake 

Timbers are a bit more docile and will give a very long warning before attacking. They are known to have less fatalities attributed to them because of their unwillingness to strike sooner rather than later.

Eastern rattlesnake

These snakes have a high potency, high quantity venom. Its fangs are the largest of all rattlesnakes and arguably the most deadly of all. Its got quite the scary arsenal behind itself. You wouldn’t want to get caught in its snare.

Western rattlesnake

This one is responsible for most reported snake fatalities in Mexico. Their venom is not as potent as the others, but it releases a lot more. This makes for just about as many deaths as its family members. (Diamondback, Eastern,…etc.)

East Coral Snake

These snakes are found in the Southeastern part of the United States. The used to be seen is the most deadly snake of that area. Recently, they have rarely been seen as much as they used to be. They were seen as deadly mostly because they have little control over how much venom they release when they bite.

These snakes are among the most venomous in the United States. If your pet is bitten by any of these snakes the first thing you should do is take them to the vet. Several of these would be deadly to your dog. The Copperhead is a unique snake. If your dog is bitten by any snake, you’d better hope that it’s a Copperhead over these other snakes. These snakes can be pretty lethal.

Good luck with your pet! I hope this was helpful for you.

Related Questions…

Can Copperhead kill a human? A Copperhead bite can be fatal. They aren’t always fatal, but their venomous bite can initiate allergic reactions or infections as they do with dogs. More potent bites can cause vomiting and tissue damage to the affected area. 

How would you treat yourself if bitten by a Copperhead? The best thing you can do to treat yourself is to get to the hospital. Injuries as severe as poisonous snake bites should be handled by a doctor. If you are not near a doctor, you should first stay calm. Second, you should immobilize the area and remove any tight clothing and jewellery.

How dangerous are Copperheads around children? Like in adults, Copperhead venom won’t likely be fatal for a child. However, the damage to a child’s system may be more extensive than that of an adult. Reports of lung and nerve damage have been recorded. 20% of child victims are hospitalized each year.  If you live near lots of snakes, keep your kids out of danger and educate them about snakes!

HM Rose

I'm from a very small town in Utah, United States. I come from a family of ten children. I can fluently speak Portuguese and lived in Brazil for about one and a half years. I'm currently studying to become a more educated human being. Hopefully, I can make a career choice that will one day be of some great use to me. For now, I'm happy being a Creator at Income School.

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