Can A Snapping Turtle Kill Your Pet Dog?

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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You may have seen people keeping dogs and turtles as pets at the same time. You can train your dog to become friendly with a turtle. But the same cannot be said about a turtle, especially if it’s a snapping turtle. Snapping turtles are notorious for their powerful bite that can cause serious injury. So, can a snapping turtle kill your pet dog? 

Your pet dog can die from the infection caused by a snapping turtle bite. It can also get Salmonella bacteria from a snapping turtle by licking its shell. Besides, raw turtle meat can be poisonous for a dog. It contains tetrodotoxin, a dangerous poison.  

In this article, I will explain how a snapping turtle can be dangerous for your dog and what you should do when a snapping turtle bites your dog. 

Can A Snapping Turtle Bite Your Dog?

Dogs are curious animals. When they see a turtle, they can barely control themselves from getting close to a turtle. But a snapping turtle does not like to be sniffed or licked by a dog. Whenever they feel threatened, they snap at their potential attacker. So, yes. A snapping turtle can bite your dog. 

An adult snapping turtle bite is powerfully dangerous. Although they do not have teeth, they have a set of strong jaws and a boney beak. Hence, they can hurt your dog pretty bad. In fact, an adult turtle is capable of tearing off limbs from a puppy or small size dog. 

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Even baby turtles bite hard. So, you should keep your dog from adult snapping turtles and their nests. 

Can Snapping Turtles Make Your Dog Sick?

It is not just the snapping turtle bite that you should be concerned about. Snapping turtles can carry Salmonella bacteria in their feces. The bacteria are also found on their shell and skin. 

If your dog licks or chews on a snapping turtle, it can easily get Salmonella. It can also get infected by getting into the turtle’s enclosure as the turtle may have spread the bacteria there. 

Dogs with strong immunity may not be affected by the bacteria. But dogs with weak immunity develop intestine issues from Salmonella. 

In serious cases, your dog might have diarrhea. Excessive diarrhea can lead to dehydration. You may find traces of blood in your dog’s feces. Then take your dog immediately to a vet. An untreated bacterial infection can kill your dog. Therefore, you should prevent your dog from getting close to a turtle enclosure. 

What To Do When A Snapping Turtle Bites Your Dog?

Your turtle might get too close to your pet snapping turtle or a wild snapping turtle and get bitten. A snapping turtle might just snap on your dog and let go right away. But sometimes, snapping turtles bite hard and hold on to the flesh. 

You can clean your dog’s wound with clean water and antiseptic soap if the bite is just a scratch. However, a snapping turtle can bite off your dog’s skin and even flesh. 

If the wound bleeds, you should use a clean cloth or bandage to put pressure on your dog’s wound. The wound should stop bleeding within ten minutes. But if it does not, take your dog to a vet. The vet will clean the wound and wrap a bandage on the wound. 

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Dogs are restless. So, the bandage might get dirty quite often. You have to change the dirty bandages and dress the wound again. Make sure the wound does not get infected; otherwise, your dog will suffer badly. 

Dog-Proofing Turtle Enclosure 

If you plan to keep a snapping turtle and a dog simultaneously, you must take steps to protect your dog and snapping turtle from each other. Snapping turtles are rarely the first offender. They bite only when they feel threatened. So, I will also tell you how to dog-proof your turtle enclosure to keep your dog away from turtles.

For outdoor snapping turtle enclosures, you can build the walls higher so that your dog cannot get into the enclosure. If the walls are low, cover the top of the turtle enclosure with a chicken wire mesh. If a snapping turtle is kept indoors, the tank should be high above the ground from your dog’s reach. Again, cover the top of the tank with a chicken wire mesh. 

You can also train your dog not to get close to turtles. Teach it basic commands like ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ ‘no’, and ‘down.’ Prohibit your dog from entering the room where you keep snapping turtles. 


So, can a snapping turtle kill your pet dog? Yes, it can. Snapping turtles bite with the intent of hurting their potential attacker really bad. The turtle bite wound can be deadly for a pet dog. Besides, your dog can get sick by getting infected with the bacteria from the turtle. As dogs usually attack first, it is best to keep the dog away from snapping turtles. 

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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