Dogs and Garter Snakes.. another everyday yard encounter

| | Life With Your Dog

As you know in my last post on “Dogs and Toads” I mentioned that I saw a small Garter Snake in our yard. Well this time I thought I would prepare myself on a potential hazard since I know that Meesha will want to see what this long slithery creature is all about!

Since dogs like Meesha do not know the difference between safe things to play with and harmful things, as responsible owners we need to prepare ourselves with knowledge to help our pets.  Meesha is only interested when she figures that something wants to play with her or that thing is a play thing like a toy. In this case a wiggly snake sure makes things a little more interesting. Now how does she catch it and what will she do with it? That is the question.

Garter Snakes Description

Garter snakes are thin snakes, about 2 or 3 feet long, they have yellow, white or red stripes running the length of their bodies. Their stripes are flanked by spots in a checkered pattern. If you and your dog spend a lot time outdoors like we do, don’t be surprised if you come across one of these slithery creatures. They are quite common in North America, mainly found in backyards, grasslands, wetlands and forests.

Garter Snakes and your Dog

Garter snakes are considered mildly venomous. This means a bite from one could cause irritation, but shouldn’t be serious. If your dog has an encounter with a garter snake, their reaction will depend on what they did to the snake. Did your dog just lick it, bite or actually kill and ingest the snake!

If your dog did not ingest any part of the snake, then they should be fine. Garter snakes emit a pungent musk to ward off predators, so don’t be surprised if your dog experiences mild symptoms, such as gagging, swelling or salivating from their encounter with the snake. If your dog swallowed the snake or shows more harsh reactions, give your veterinarian a call to make sure there’s nothing to be concerned about.

As a note, Garter Snakes don’t tend to bite, however if you suspect your dog was bitten, in general the bite is not harmful. Clean the area, watch for any reactions.  If you’re still not sure, always call your veterinarian.


Garter snakes are very common all over North America. Since they are found in our backyard, forests and parks, your dog will eventually come across one. If your dog is anything like our Meesha you can bet on your pup testing the grounds and investigating this new found creature.

This post is strictly about the Garter snake. There are hundreds of species snakes that can be found in many places. If you’re unsure of the type of snake your dog had a tangle with, bringing it along with your dog to the veterinarian will help in diagnosing any reactions. Arming yourself with knowledge of the types of snakes in your area will certainly help in you helping your dog.

Happy spring… if you have a story of your dog’s enthusiastic meet and greet with a snake, please share it with us. The joy of dogs and garter snakes!



As a life-long dog parent and enthusiast, I can’t get enough of all things doggie! My love of dogs and passion to educate and share solutions with other dog owners, is essentially how this site came to be. With the help of my three dogs I will provide engaging ‘tails’ and real life-lessons learned on dog ownership.

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