Yes, snakes are scared of dogs. Snakes do not like getting in the way of dogs since dogs are bigger, louder, and too large to be considered potential food.
Therefore, when a snake spots a dog, the chances are that it will walk away or hide. But it is important to note that dogs are also at risk of being attacked by snakes if the dog touches or corners the snake, which can be fatal.
Dogs do not share the same fear of snakes as humans; they will attack snakes when an opportunity arises.
Do Snakes Fear Dogs?
Snakes are not aggressive reptiles; rather, they are shy and secretive. They generally do not attack or bite out of malice. Therefore, the shyness of snakes makes them fear aggressive animals such as dogs.
Snakes are solitary animals and prefer to be left alone. Therefore, when they notice something trying to invade their space, they usually try to escape rather than attack.
Snakes usually sense dogs as a threat. They usually do not want anything to do with dogs. Dogs are larger than most snake species, so they view them as a potentially dangerous predator.
Dog barking does not scare snakes since they are deaf to airborne sounds. However, the aggressive posture of dogs is what scares them. Additionally, snakes usually feel the vibrations that the dogs make while jumping up and down on the ground which may also be an intimidating factor.
Nonetheless, when a snake feels cornered, it might retaliate and bite the dog.
Do Snakes Kill Dogs?
Although snakes are unlikely to attack or bite dogs, they can bite dogs at times. Usually, this will occur if the snake is stepped on. This can be fatal depending on the type of snake, but usually, it is not fatal.
You should take your dog to a vet immediately if it has been bitten.
Venomous snakes bite through the dog flesh using their fangs to deliver a dose of venom. The venom immobilizes the dog and can rot body tissue.
When the venom enters the dog’s body, it destroys the tissues, and the dog can lose up to a third of its body fluid after a few hours. The loss of body fluids mainly results in a life-threatening drop in blood pressure causing shock.
The severity of snakebite is based on the amount of venom injected and its toxicity. Other factors influence the severity of the snake bite include:
- Amount of regenerated venom after the last bite: if the snake has not bitten anything else for a long time, its venom is highly concentrated. If it recently bit something, its venom will not be fully regenerated and may be diluted.
- Size of the dog
- Size and location of the bite
- Time taken before seeking medical attention
- The activity level of the dog after been bitten
Large constrictor snakes also kill dogs through constrictions. Large constrictors usually exert pressure that raises the dog’s blood pressure to dangerous levels. Constriction pressure can collapse the dog’s heart, leading to death.
Related Article: Are Snakes Afraid Of Fire And Smoke?
Why Do Dogs Hate Snakes?
Regardless of size, dogs’ lack of fear is probably what makes them hate and attack snakes. Furthermore, dogs see any foreign creature as a threat to both itself and its owner, and its immediate reaction is to attack.
It has been observed that dogs can smell and differentiate between a venomous rattlesnake and a harmless garter snake, but rather than finding the smell terrifying, they see it as intriguing. Therefore, rather than escaping, dogs will likely investigate, and this puts them in grave danger.
Although most native North American snake species are not venomous, some snake species, such as rattlesnakes, are extremely venomous.
Can Dogs Smell Snakes?
Dogs have a very strong sense of smell and can smell almost everything, including those underground. They have a tremendous olfactory system, making their sense of smell forty times better than that of humans.
Dogs can definitely smell snakes. Snakes are reptiles, and they produce certain odors that humans cannot detect, but they are detectable by dogs. Dogs have 300 million sensory receptors on their nose, making them highly susceptible to the smell of any snake odor.
Anytime a dog picks up a snake scent, it always tries to warn you or gives some form of heads-up. Therefore, it is crucial to understand your dog’s behavior when trying to alert you once a dog sniffs a snake, it immediately wants to investigate.
Signs That a Dog Has Sniffed Out a Snake
Dogs are highly curious about their surroundings and environment. Dogs’ noses are always on the ground, trying to pick up any scent. Therefore, a dog can tell when there is a snake around or any other reptile. However, in most cases, dogs do not understand what they are smelling but will smell the odor emitted by a snake.
The common signs that dogs use to signal danger include a stiff tail, a paw up, and the nose fixed to the region where the scent is coming from. In some cases, depending on your dog, it might run towards where the smell is coming once it picks it. Dogs also bark to alert you about the creature.
It is essential to understand these dog behaviors because they can growl, howl, bite, nip, or lick the creature or object it finds with the scent. Some of the dogs’ choices can be extremely dangerous, especially if it is a snake and decides to be defensive.
Do Dogs Kill Snakes?
Yes, dogs kill snakes, especially most snakes native to North America, because they are non-venomous. However, some snakes also kill dogs, so allowing your dog to be near snakes is not recommended. For example, boas are excellent constrictors and also very large and can quickly kill dogs.
Related: Are Dogs Immune to Snake Venom?
Dogs do kill snakes, but not all breeds of snakes can kill snakes. Although there are no breeds of dogs bred to kill snakes, some are more capable of hunting and killing snakes than others.
Some types of dogs breed that is capable of hunting and killing snakes includes:
- German Pinscher
- Lakeland Terrier
- Australian Terrier
- Miniature Schnauzer
- West Highland White Terrier
- Norfolk Terrier
It is evident from the list that terrier breeds feature prominently. The main reason is that this type of breed has been bred over time to hunt rats and mice. This makes them perfect for hunting and killing snakes due to their adaptation of hunting small moving animals.
Terrier breeds are excellent hunters of underground animals because they can dig out burrows to force out hiding snakes.
Although terriers are small, they are full of energy which allows them to detect snakes and give a chase quickly. Furthermore, they are fearless and require no motivation to attack their prey.
Dogs usually kill snakes by grabbing the snake and shaking it violently until it is extremely injured or dead. After noticing that the snake is exceptionally wounded or dead, it then throws it to the ground.
The technique of shaking the snake revolves around disrupting its nervous system by injuring its delicate snake spine. Once the snakes’ spine is injured, the snake’s capacity to strike in the dog’s direction is extremely compromised.
The only danger to the dog occurs when it is trying to capture the snake, but terriers breed speed, and intelligence only attacks when a chance to grab presents itself.
However, they are also victims of snake bites, which can be fatal, especially if the snake was venomous. If such a case occurs, it is vital to seek medical attention to prevent death.
How to Tell If a Snake has bitten a Dog?
You should take your dog to a vet immediately if it has been bitten.
There are several signs that a dog presents when a snake has bitten it. It is important to understand some of these signs to save your dog, especially if the bite came from a venomous snake. They include:
- Sweaty paws
- Ears back
- Dilated pupils
- Tucked tail
- Whale eyes
- Exposed teeth
- Back hair on edge.
There are other signs you can look for, including:
- Weakness of limb
- Collapse or paralysis
- Muscle contractions
- Pain in a particular location
- Puncture wounds
It is paramount that once you notice some of the above signs, immediate action to see a veterinary is taken as it can save your dog. Snakes bites are hard to detect. Therefore, immediate action should be taken to see the vet as most dogs remain asymptomatic for close to 24 hours after a bite.
Long-Term Effects Of Snake Bites On Dogs
Even after successful treatment of snake bites, dogs sometimes experience long-term effects, including lethargy and weakness. The problem usually ends after some time ranging from a few days to several weeks. In some cases, the dog might experience the formation of echinocytes.
Can Pet Snakes and Dogs Get Along?
The answer to this is definite NO; dogs and snakes cannot coexist because of the behavioral traits of dogs. Dogs naturally dislike snakes, and their curiosity and eagerness to investigate will put both the dog and snake at risk.
Although snakes are afraid of dogs and mostly escape when they spot a dog, they can also attack when cornered. Snake bites can be fatal to the dog or leave long-term side effects. Even though some dogs listed here are excellent at hunting and killing snakes, it is important to prevent your dog from attacking snakes.
Joe is a freelance writer for FaunaFacts. Joe has written extensively about snakes for the site, but also contributes content about a range of animals.