Dogs and rattlesnakes have one big thing in common: they both thrive in the outdoors. Marshes, grassy fields, forests, and verdant hillsides are playgrounds to both species. We know– rattlesnakes can seem creepy and frightening. Their venomous fangs and sinister rattle are enough to drive fear into most people. But the more you know about rattlesnakes the less likely you are to have a negative encounter with one. Here’s how you can keep you and your dog rattlesnake-safe.
Not to be taken in place of veterinary advice. If your dog has been bitten by a venomous snake, consult your vet immediately.
How to protect your dog from snake bites
Rattlesnakes live all over the Southwest US. They might be creepy, but knowing some basic information about snakes can help us understand these creatures.
Quick facts on Rattlesnakes
- Rattlesnakes are known to be most active in warmer weather, from April to October.
- Their “rattle” is an indication that you are too close, and should back away slowly.
- Although rattlesnakes usually rattle to indicate when they’re going to attack someone, they will strike if snuck up on or stepped on.
- Their natural habitat includes beach areas, the foothills, mountains, canyons, deserts, and even some urban surroundings.
- Rattlesnakes are reclusive by nature and only attack when provoked or cornered.
- Rattlesnakes can swim.
- They love to sunbathe.
- If treated promptly, rattlesnake bites are not usually fatal.
Keeping your dog rattlesnake safe
Because rattlesnakes live in Southern California’s natural areas, we must know how to peacefully cross paths with them. Dogs’ instincts tell them to approach snakes, but it is an owner’s responsibility to keep their dog out of harm’s way. While snakes usually slither out of the way when they hear something coming, sometimes you inevitably cross paths. There are a couple of ways you can prevent your dog from getting bit by a rattlesnake:
- Keep your dog next to you on-leash. If your dog has good recall and you hike off-leash, try not to let them stray too far or wander off-trail.
- Don’t allow dogs to scrounge in tall, grassy areas, beneath logs, or in burrows.
- Stay on clearly marked trails where you can see where you’re stepping.
What to do if your dog gets bitten by a rattlesnake:
- DO NOT: Cut an X over the wound, suck the venom out, ice, or compress the wound. Do not go after the snake. Just get to a vet as fast as possible.
- Try to identify the snake | If you can tell the color, length, or pattern on the back of the snake, you can help your veterinarian know what kind of antivenom to administer to your dog.
- Stay calm. | Dogs feed off our energy. If they get bit, you need to hold it down for your dog. Although the event of a snake bite is rattling, try your best to be calm and assertive to seek care ASAP.
- Walk slowly but assertively | Keeping your heart rate down is the goal to prevent the venom from moving through the body any quicker.
While there exists a rattlesnake vaccine, it doesn’t protect against all rattlesnake bites nor is it a replacement for veterinary attention. If your dog has been bitten by a rattlesnake, stay calm, walk slowly as not to make the venom spread faster, and seek veterinary attention immediately.
Rattlesnake Safety Training
We can help our dogs by providing training. Organizations such as Dog Rattlesnake Avoidance Training teach dogs to avoid these venomous creatures. Training is quick and easy, and it’s suggested that you train annually because dogs often forget they should avoid rattlesnakes. With practice, your dog understands that the odor, look, and sound of rattlesnakes is something they must avoid.
Keep your dog safe this spring and summer by bringing them to a rattlesnake avoidance training and getting the rattlesnake vaccine. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave your comments below or ask us the next time you’re at Fitdog.