Can My Dog Get Sick After Killing a Garter Snake?

by Betty Lewis
Garter snakes enjoy basking in the sun on rocks, easily seen by a passing dog.

Garter snakes enjoy basking in the sun on rocks, easily seen by a passing dog.

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Oh, those slithering, slippery snakes, tempting your pup with their wiggling ways. If Buddy's the least bit frisky, a scurrying garter snake may be too much for him to resist. Buddy doesn't know the difference between harmful snakes and safe ones; he only knows they're fun to catch and play with.

Ubiquitous Garter Snakes

Garter snakes are thin snakes, about 2 or 3 feet long, who sport yellow, white or red stripes the length of their bodies. Their stripes are flanked by spots in a checkered pattern. If you and Buddy spend much time outdoors, don't be surprised if you come across one of these guys, as they're common in North America, found in backyards, grasslands, wetlands and forests.

Garter Snakes and Buddy

Garter snakes are considered mildly venomous, meaning a bite from one could cause irritation but shouldn't be serious. If your pooch has an encounter with a garter snake, his reaction will depend on what kind of interaction he's had with it. If he killed the snake without ingesting any of it, he should be fine. Garter snakes emit a pungent musk to ward off predators, so don't be surprised if Buddy experiences mild symptoms, such as gagging, swelling or salivating from his encounter. If he swallowed the snake or shows a reaction to his meeting, give the vet a call to make sure there's nothing to be concerned about.

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About the Author

Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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