Garter snakes are some of the most common types of snakes in the United States.
It’s quite likely you’ve come across them at least once, lurking around in your yard or porch.
As such, dog owners are often concerned about whether these snakes can hurt their dogs.
The good news is that garter snakes are mostly harmless and prefer to avoid other animals and humans unless provoked.
Their venom is also not very effective, so the worst that can happen is some irritation from the snake bite.
Read below to find out more about garter snakes and how safe they are for dogs.
Garter Snake Overview
The genus Thamnophis contains 35 species of garter snakes.
They are adapted to various environmental conditions and can be found naturally throughout much of North and Central America.
Nevertheless, their preferred habitats are warm, heavily wooded, and temperate wetlands.
The average length of a garter snake is just about 1 to 4 feet. They are expert carnivore hunters, but they are shy and reluctant to attack humans unless provoked.
They have a common ancestor with other snakes from the Nerodia genus, including the water snakes.
Garter snakes are among the most numerous and widely distributed snakes in North and Central America. Their eyes are round, and their snouts are very short and stubby.
Additionally, they can be any of several colors, including brown, green, yellow, black, and tan.
Most species have two light-colored stripes that run parallel to one another down the length of their bodies.
Even though they spend most of their time on land, garter snakes are excellent swimmers.
Lakes and slow-moving streams provide a haven from predators and prime hunting grounds. These snakes are extremely fast and can quickly travel across land and sea.
In addition to insects and small fish, they also consume rodents, eggs, and even smaller snakes as a source of protein.
Thankfully, they stay away from people and only act aggressively when provoked.
The vomeronasal organ in the mouth of a garter snake is crucial to its ability to navigate and interpret its surroundings.
Animals in this group use their tongues as antennae to detect subtle changes in air pressure and temperature, allowing them to detect food, mates, and danger by simply flicking their tongues as they move.
Can Garter Snakes and Dogs Coexist?
Garter snakes and dogs can coexist peacefully. However, you must keep your snake inside its cage at all times.
Since neither your dog nor your snake can approach the other, there is no reason they shouldn’t get along fine.
The garter snake enjoys being alone in its own company. If you have a dog, it’s best to keep your garter snake confined and not let it out in the same room.
If you do want to let them into the same room, you will need to be present to provide supervision.
You can’t put your faith in a snake while it’s with a dog, and you can’t predict what your dog will do. It’s not worth the risk!
What to Do If My Dog Eats a Snake
If a dog eats a snake, there is a slight chance that the dog will become ill, although the degree of the illness will vary depending on the species of snake eaten and its overall condition.
If the snake was venomous but managed to avoid biting your dog, the animal would likely have developed an immunity to the venom.
Venoms are harmful when injected into a vein or applied directly to the skin, but they are harmless when consumed orally.
However, if the snake is poisonous, your dog will likely become ill or even die if it eats it.
The nonvenomous garter snake is an example of a dangerous snake because it stores poison from the newts and salamanders it eats.
If the snake is a disease carrier, it won’t matter if it’s neither poisonous nor venomous; your dog could still become sick by eating it.
Snakes can transmit diseases like Salmonella and parasites like the tapeworm Spirometra and the roundworm Gnathostoma.
If your dog has eaten a snake that it found in the yard, you should get it to the vet as soon as possible to make sure it’s all right.
Can Garter Snakes Hurt Dogs?
Thankfully, dogs are not at all in danger from garter snakes. Their bites and venom are so weak that even tiny children and cats are safe from garter snakes.
The worst thing that might happen is a bite. In most cases, the bite would only result in a little discomfort and swelling.
Although garter snakes do not pose a significant threat to small animals or young children and are not known to be lethal to them, there is a possibility that they could have more severe adverse effects, such as nausea and dizziness.
It’s crucial to properly clean the wound and treat the bite as soon as possible if you or someone you care about has received a garter snake bite.
The best thing to do if you find a garter snake in your yard is to leave it alone or move it to a more remote and wooded place.
If you are unsure of your ability to relocate the animal safely, it may be best to seek assistance from local wildlife officials.
Garter snakes benefit a garden because they eat slugs, ticks, and mice, among other pests.
First and foremost, be calm, and under no circumstances should you attempt to hurt or provoke the snake in any manner.
Their bites aren’t fatal, but they still hurt quite a bit if you get one.
What to Do If a Snake Bites My Dog
The bite of a nonvenomous snake should be cleaned with gentle soap and water to avoid infection, and any signs of irritation should be monitored.
If you are unclear about the species of snake that bit your pet, though, you should take them to the doctor just in case.
Otherwise, most snake bites do not require medical attention.
You shouldn’t panic if a poisonous snake bites your dog; instead, go to a nearby veterinarian as soon as you can.
Bring your pet calmly to your car by walking or carrying it there.
The toxin might move through the body more quickly if there is some activity going on.
Many common home treatments for snake bites are not only ineffective but also dangerous.
Hot or cold packs, cutting and/or sucking the bite site, and tourniquets are all inappropriate treatments for a snake bite.
The best remedy is still the same: getting in your car and going to the vet right away.
Although it would be beneficial to know what kind of snake bit the victim, many owners don’t see their pets attacked or aren’t able to identify the snake positively.
Don’t put yourself at risk by trying to determine what kind of snake is attacking your dog.
Knowing what kinds of venomous snakes are native to your area or the places you want to visit is important.
This is especially crucial for dog owners who frequently take their pets on outings outside of their usual environment.
There are 25 different snake species in Colorado alone, but only two of them are poisonous: massasaugas and western rattlesnakes.
Rattlesnake Bites: Common Symptoms
Although symptoms may vary, some of the more frequent outcomes of a snake bite are:
- Bleeding or fluid-filled puncture wounds
- Sudden pain and edema
- Small blood spots on the skin are often known as petechia.
- Increased saliva production
How to Avoid Snake Bites
It is not a good idea to give your dog the idea that playing with snakes is an acceptable form of fun because the United States is home to several snake species known to be venomous.
Garter snakes are one of the least dangerous of these snakes.
When hiking in snake-infested areas, make sure your dog is on a leash at all times and consider signing him up for a snake avoidance course.
Ensure that they apply strategies that involve positive reinforcement.
Teaching your dog some simple commands, such as “leave it,” will also help to ensure his safety when off-leash.
Although vaccination has been approved for use in dogs and is available in some locations, the question of whether or not it is effective is still debatable.
Many medical professionals do not advocate for this vaccine because it is not a recommended “core” vaccine.
Even vaccinated dogs require veterinarian attention in case of a deadly snake bite. The vaccine is not safe or effective for feline patients.
How to Prevent Garter Snakes from Entering Your Yard
Some individuals, despite the creature’s amiability and lack of danger, will still not want it near their home.
Fortunately, there are many measures we can take to ensure that they never return.
Trim the Grass Regularly
Keeping the grass cut short is the simplest and most efficient solution.
Since garter snakes avoid being in the spotlight, they will avoid yards with short or artificial grass and instead look for more concealing environments.
Clear Away Bushes And Leaf Pile
To keep Garter Snakes from settling in our yard, you must first eliminate their potential food and shelter sources.
By denying these creatures their preferred hiding spots, you will have effectively eliminated half of their population.
Take Away All Food Sources
By maintaining a healthy garden, you can discourage Garter Snakes from settling in one area, giving them fewer reasons to hang near your home.
Use Snake Repellent
Finding a product that is going to be effective in warding off Garter Snakes is the most important thing to do, as many different snake repellents can be used, each with a different level of effectiveness.
There is nothing more disheartening than having a glimmer of optimism dashed to find Garter Snakes still lurking around your house.
Top With an Unsuitable Surface
If you use a surface in your garden like Lava rocks that these snakes find uninviting or impossible to get into, you can expect them to move on in search of more suitable surroundings.
Catch And Relocate
Manually capturing the snakes, assuming you can locate them, is another option.
You can effectively get rid of Garter Snakes by setting traps for them. If you use food as bait, you should be able to catch and remove the animals effortlessly.
Where Do Garter Snakes Sleep?
One of the many reasons why garter snakes make such wonderful pets is the fact that they are active during the day.
They prefer to huddle together, out of sight, and in packs while they sleep at night.
Making sure there is nowhere for them to hide, such as in the foundation of your home or beneath huge rocks, is another very helpful way of making sure that these snakes don’t lurk around in the area around your home.
Can Garter Snakes Hurt Dogs
So, while garter snakes are mostly harmless for dogs and other pets, it’s often difficult to predict the behavior of these animals.
The best thing to do is to keep these animals separate. Even if you have a pet garter snake, make sure they are never together unsupervised.
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