Can A Rattlesnake Kill a Dog? Keeping Your Dog Safe From Rattlesnakes

can a rattlesnake bite kill a dog

When you’re hiking, camping, or hunting with your dog, there is a risk of your dog getting bitten by a rattlesnake. This may make you wonder what would happen if your dog was bitten by a venomous rattlesnake and furthermore, can a rattlesnake kill a dog? 

A rattlesnake bite can kill a dog from its venomous bite. Large and small-sized dogs will be affected differently by the bite, but big dogs can still die. The body part of which the venom was injected determines how fast the venom gets to the heart, so a quick drive to the vet could save the dog’s life.

But it is important to know what goes on with rattlesnake bites so that you can have the best chance to save your dog. Keep reading to discover more.

What Happens If A Dog Is Bitten By A Rattlesnake? 

Humans and dogs can be enjoying their hike in the wilderness and accidentally intrude into a rattlesnake’s space. A snake’s fangs going into the cheek, arm, and leg of a dog have happened before. Therefore, scientists have studied a creature’s reaction to venom and have gained an understanding of what causes the venomous bite to kill.

A rattlesnake isn’t out to hunt down your dog. Rattlesnakes don’t often bite people or larger animals unless they are being attacked or scared. The chances are slim that your dog will get bit, but it doesn’t hurt to take precautions.

If a dog gets bitten it is usually in the face or the extremities. These rattlesnake bites can be very painful. The bitten area will swell up and the venom will begin to travel through the blood cells.

Most rattlesnake venoms are hemotoxic meaning it attacks the cardiovascular system. The venom will slow down the blood creating low blood pressure. Blood will thicken and behind to clot, causing one to bleed out internally. When the venom reaches the heart is when the victim is likely to die. (Source)

A dog’s reaction to a rattlesnake bite will begin 1 to 2 hours after the bite. In severe cases, the dog will lose balance and pass out. So get your dog help from a veterinarian as soon as possible. It might just be the thing that saves your dog’s life from a rattlesnake bite. 

Can A Rattlesnake Bite Kill A Large Dog? 

It will take a lot longer for the venom to travel to the heart of a great dane than a chihuahua. A bigger dog is less likely to pass away from a rattlesnake bite. The venom will travel faster through the blood of the chihuahua so it may have a short time to get it taken care of.

German shepherds, Huskies, Australian Shepherds, Labrador’s, Golden Retrievers, and all other bigger breeds are less likely to die because the venom takes longer to travel to the heart. Yorkies, Corgis, Pomeranians, miniature poodles, shih tzus, and other small breeds will die faster.

That said, a rattlesnake can kill a dog of any size. So you still need to get your dog help as soon as possible if they are bitten by a rattlesnake.

There is a vaccine that can be given to dogs that can lower the damage of getting bitten by a rattlesnake. It is recommended for dogs who are around snakes and are likely to get bitten. It protects from some venomous snakes except cottonmouths, Mojave rattlesnake, Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake, or coral snakes. (Source)

If your dog is in an area that is highly populated with snakes you may want to consider getting the vaccine.

Worst Places For A Dog To Be Bitten By A Venomous Snake 

A venomous bite near the neck and face will be the worst place for a dog (or anyone) to get bitten. The venom can lead to the eyes or mouth — two important parts of the body. If the dog survives being bit in these areas it is likely for them to be permanently damaged. You don’t want venom to get to the brain either.

It is possible for the dog to go blind if venom enters its eyes. The closer to the heart the bite is the faster the venom will travel there and kill the dog. This is unfortunate seeing as how a dog is likely to lead with its face when coming into contact with a snake. 

Probability of a Dog Dying by a Rattlesnake

A human body is better at fighting infection than a dog is. Humans and other large mammals will have more time to get the medicine they need to stop the venom from traveling to the heart.Dogs are 20 times more likely to be bitten by a rattlesnake than humans are and are 25 times more likely to die from it. (Source)

The current statistics claim that dogs have a 5% mortality rate when bitten by rattlesnakes. Unfortunately, a snake bite can kill a dog in as short as 25 minutes. For a human, it can take about 2 days. 

Perhaps you aren’t sure if your dog was bitten by a rattlesnake. Symptoms of a venomous snake bite include swelling around the fang marks, abnormal salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and paralysis. If your dog is showing these symptoms, get them to the vet as soon as possible.

What Not to Do if Your Dog Got Bitten by a Rattlesnake

First of all, do not panic. Staying calm will help you think rationally and take the best steps to help your dog.

Some people try to suck the poison out of the injury. Experts have said this is a bad idea and can make things worse rather than better. Icing the wound has not proven to help either. Just get your pup to treatment as soon as possible. 


If you see that your dog has a snake bite, make plans to get them to the nearest veterinarian possible. Call the vet on your way and let them know what has happened. They can advise you on exactly what to do. 

Keeping the wounded area still and below the heart will keep the venom traveling at a slower pace towards it. The venom becomes more dangerous to the dog when it reaches the heart. 

The vet should have the medications that would heal the animal the fastest. They will use fluid support, antibiotic administration, antihistamines, pain medicine, and antivenin. These medications will be the best chance for recovery.

There are predators all throughout the world. A rattlesnake is one we are more likely to encounter. They are small, they blend in, and there are a lot of them. These sneaky and slithery creatures can take the life of a man, as well as a man’s best friend.

When you are with your dog in a rattlesnake habitat, bring your phone and keys. If your dog wants to run free around the snakes, get them a vaccine. Of course, as we said, the vaccine does not work on all venomous snakes. 

Keep yourself and your puppies safe!

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