Rattlesnakes can be dangerous and life threatening if encountered. No dog parent wants to have to deal with taking their four legged companion to the vet for a rattlesnake bite. Fortunately, being prepared for worst case scenarios can help.
Most rattlesnakes can be found in the Southwest America and Mexico, but are native from Canada all the way down to South America. Most species live near open, rocky areas. They begin to come out during the Spring in March and April and become more active as temperatures rise during the Summer.
If you live in or are visiting an area where rattlesnakes are prevalent, make sure you know what to do should you encounter one. Check the rattlesnake tips for dogs below to make sure you’re well prepared.
Rattlesnake Safety Tips for Dogs
Ask Your Vet About the Rattlesnake Vaccine
First and foremost, if you live in an area that is populated by rattlesnakes it may be a good idea to look into the rattlesnake vaccine for your dog. The vaccine does not give a dog full immunity to a rattlesnake bite. However, it does reduce the reaction a dog may have to a bite. This gives them more time before the bite becomes fatal and allows for more time to get to the vet hospital for treatment. Talk to your vet about the rattlesnake vaccine to see if it’s a good choice for your dog.
What to Do If You See a Rattlesnake While Walking Your Dog
Always be aware of your surroundings when walking your dog in an area where rattlesnakes may live. You might hear their rattle before you see them. Make sure to keep your dog on a short leash. Never use a retractable leash and it’s best if your dog isn’t off leash.
If you do happen across a rattlesnake during a hike, stop immediately and try to be very still. Make sure to pull your dog close to you with the leash. Slowly and calmly walk backwards until you and your dog are out of striking distance. Once you’re at a safe distance away from the rattlesnake, leave the area.
What to Do If Your Dog Is Bitten By a Rattlesnake
It’s important to try and keep your dog as calm as possible. Trying to stay calm yourself can help too. An increased heart rate will spread the rattlesnake’s venom more rapidly through the body. If your dog is small enough, you can carry them to your car. If not, walk at a normal speed with your dog to the car so that you can get them to the veterinary hospital as soon as possible.
You can try to position your dog in a way so that their bite wound is below their heart. Avoid using tourniquets that restrict blood flow and using ice on the wound.
Rattlesnake Bite Symptoms
There’s also always the chance that your dog could be bitten by a rattlesnake without you seeing it happen. Knowing the symptoms of a rattlesnake bite can help. The most obvious symptom will be a bite wound with bleeding. Here are some other symptoms of rattlesnake bites in dogs:
Increased respiratory rate
Swelling around the bite wound
Encountering a rattlesnake while walking your dog can be a scary and potentially fatal event. Knowing what to do in this scenario can be a life saver. Be aware, cautious, and safe by following all of the above rattlesnake safety tips for dogs.