You notice your dog beginning to chew on something, so you head over for a closer look. It’s a snake skin! You know there are bull snakes living in your area and suspect the skin was shed by one of them. So now you’re wondering: what happens when a dog eats a bull snake skin? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll answer this question and more.
What You'll Learn Today
What Happens if a Dog Eats a Bull Snake Skin?
Some dogs will chew on anything. What should you do if you see your beloved pet chomping away at a snake skin?
The good news is that, in most cases, eating a bull snake skin should not cause any problems for your pup. Snake skins are generally harmless, and because bull snakes are nonvenomous, their shed skins should pose no threat to your dog.
If anything, the dog may choke on the skin, as bull snakes can grow up to 8 feet long and may shed long segments of their skin. Most of the time though, any dog eating a snake skin will be able to tear and chew it into smaller pieces before swallowing, which should eliminate the choking risk.
If your dog does manage to swallow a large segment of snake skin without chewing it up first, it may cause digestive issues. Pay close attention to the dog’s bowel movements over the next few days–if you notice any changes, the snake skin may be causing a bowel obstruction, and in this case, get the dog to the vet immediately.
Both choking and bowel obstruction are extremely rare complications, however. As noted, your dog will likely be unharmed from eating a snake skin.
Keep a close eye on the dog for 24 hours or so, and if it begins displaying any unusual behavior or symptoms, take it to the vet.
It’s worth noting that you may have a hard time telling if it’s a bull snake skin or the skin of some other snake. Bull snakes and rattlesnakes often live in the same areas, and a rattlesnake skin could contain bits of the venom near the head, which could cause problems.
If you’re concerned your dog may have eaten a rattlesnake skin instead of a bull snake skin, call your vet.
Check out this video of a puppy eating a piece of snake skin:
What Happens if a Dog Eats a Dead Bull Snake?
If your dog eats a dead snake of any kind, this could be much more serious than if it were to simply eat a snake skin. Whether the dead snake is venomous or nonvenomous, it’s important to consider how and why the snake may have died.
Bull snakes are nonvenomous, so your dog shouldn’t receive any negative effects from venom. That said, the mouths often contain various strains of bacteria, so if the dog eats the snake’s head, this bacteria could pass into the dog’s system and cause infection.
If the snake has been dead for some time, it may harbor other types of bacteria as well throughout the whole body. Again, this could lead to your dog developing a bacterial infection.
By far though, the biggest risk from your dog eating a dead snake comes if the snake was poisoned.
Snakes often die from the use of pesticides and other chemicals, which many farmers use to keep the snakes away. If a snake has been killed by one of these poisons, the poison may pass from the snake’s body into your dog, causing sickness and even death.
What Should I Do if My Dog Eats a Bull Snake or Snake Skin?
The first step is to stay calm and avoid panicking.
If your dog ate a snake skin, keep the dog under close observation for a day or two, and call your vet if the dog begins displaying any weird or abnormal behavior. Pay particular attention to the dog’s bowel movements, as changes could be a sign of bowel obstruction–however, this is a rare complication.
If you’re concerned, you can call your vet ahead of time even if the dog is displaying no symptoms. The vet may suggest bringing the dog in for a precautionary checkup.
If the dog eats a dead snake, take him to the vet right away. If you were able to identify the snake as a bull snake, this will help your vet rule out potential complications involved with eating dead venomous snakes.
If you suspect the snake was killed by poisoning, tell your vet. The dog may have to spend some time at the vet’s office and receive ongoing treatment to remove the poison and treat any resulting symptoms.
What Happens if a Dog Gets Bit By a Bull Snake?
It’s very important to identify the species that bit your dog if possible. Bull snakes are often mistaken for rattlesnakes, but rattlesnake bites can cause much more serious harm and even the potential of death.
Bull snake bites are not nearly as dangerous since bull snakes are nonvenomous. That said, it’s still important to get your dog to a vet, as bacteria in the bull snake’s mouth may cause bacterial infection in pets if it is left untreated.
Correctly identifying the snake that bit your pet can help the vet administer the proper treatment quickly. If they have to try different treatments to find the correct one because the snake is unknown, the dog could experience severe complications and even die.
That said, if you are unable to identify the snake, don’t waste extra time trying to track it down so you can get a correct identification. In these cases, time is of the essence, and it’s better to get your dog to the vet’s office quickly so it can begin receiving treatment.
Dogs often eat snake skins without receiving any harm. If your dog has eaten a bull snake skin, keep an eye on the dog to make sure it doesn’t begin displaying any symptoms, but beyond that, you shouldn’t have to worry.
If the dog eats a dead bull snake or is bitten by a live one, get the dog to the vet. They could experience sickness and even death if the snake was poisoned or if the dog develops a bacterial infection. Here’s our guide to bull snake’s eggs and all related things.