Rattlesnakes are a fact of life around these parts. Most of us are aware of the dangers these reptiles pose to us as we hike and camp, or even while we putter around in our own backyards. Rattlesnakes and pets are a particularly disastrous combination, thanks to our pets’ curious nature and unpredictability.
Do you know what to do if you and your pet happen across a rattlesnake? Learning about rattlesnake safety for pets is key to protecting your furry loved one.
Rattlesnakes And Pets
A rattlesnake bite poses a serious risk to your pet. Once the venom is injected, it begins to act immediately. The blood vessels near the region of the bite are compromised, and an immune response causes severe swelling and pain. Because the venom also affects the blood’s ability to clot, large amounts of blood may be lost. The effects of the venom will lead to shock, and eventually death, if left untreated.
Pets are most often bitten on the face, neck, forelegs, and paws, since these are the body parts that are typically closest to the snake. There will be progressive swelling, bruising, and intense pain in the area of the bite, and overall weakness may occur due to low blood pressure. Your pet may also start panting.
What To Do If Your Pet Is Bitten
If the worst-case scenario occurs and your pet is bitten by a rattlesnake, don’t panic. Remain calm and bring your pet in for emergency care immediately, as his or her survival rate is much higher if treated promptly. A rattlesnake bite should always be treated as a life-threatening emergency, where every minute that passes without treatment works against your pet’s survival.
The staff at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center, as well as other local animal ER’s, are equipped to deal with snakebites and will do everything possible to ensure a good outcome for your pet. If possible, call when on the way so the medical team can be ready for your pet’s arrival and give you other instructions, if needed.
Rattlesnake Safety For Pets
If you are an active pet owner who loves the outdoors, your odds of encountering a rattlesnake are good. By understanding the rattlesnake’s habits, you can increase your chances of avoiding a run-in altogether:
- Stay on the trail – Snakes love to hide, and can be hard to spot in the brush, tall grass, and rocks alongside a trail. Keep your dog on a leash and close by your side at all times and stay on the trail while hiking. Avoid letting your dog run free.
- Avoid prairie dog colonies – Rattlers are notorious for taking over abandoned prairie dog holes, and a curious dog’s nose or paw exploring a hole can easily be bitten.
- Be careful around water – Rattlesnakes can swim and what looks like stick in the water could actually be a snake.
- Protect your property – Snakes live on a diet of small animals, mainly rodents, so controlling the rodent population around your property is key in limiting rattlesnakes near your home. Keep your yard free of tall grasses and debris, which can make good hiding places for rodents and snakes alike.
- Snakes are introverts – These shy creatures really just want to be left alone! Rattlesnakes will not act aggressively unless they are threatened, so keep your pet from pestering wildlife.
- If you come across a rattlesnake – Back away from the area calmly and quietly, and find a different route. A striking snake has a relatively long reach – 5 to 6 feet – so do not attempt to go around it or jump over it. Never attempt to provoke it!
- Train your dog –A dog that is easy to control poses less of a danger to him or herself, so spend some time reinforcing your dog’s basic obedience skills. Our Canine Academy offers a variety of training and obedience classes for all breeds and ages.
- Consider vaccinating your dog – Rattlesnake vaccine is available at our facility. Your dog will still need emergency care if bitten, but vaccination can lessen the effects of a bite and improve your dog’s chance of survival.