Rattlesnakes can be a serious threat to your dog’s life no matter how large, smart, or tough they may be—and chances are, you live near them!
Despite the fact that these snakes may very well reside in your area, there are preventative measures you can take to reduce the risk of a deadly bite. This applies to all breeds, including our own labradoodle and goldendoodle breeds from Uptown Puppies.
Parks and trails are popular places for dog owners to get some exercise in with their pooch, but they can also be a hot spot for rattlesnakes. Homes are being built on previously rural land, making it easier for domestic and wild life to cross paths.
Urban dwellers in 100% concrete cities may not need to worry about these things, but most pet owners should take heed—owners of new puppies. In order to stay safe, a responsible dog owner should be educated about avoidance and additional steps you can take to reduce the chance of being bitten if you do encounter a rattlesnake.
- Get the rattlesnake vaccine.
Red Rock Biologics has developed a vaccine specifically for rattlesnake bites, made from their venom to reduce and possibly delay the reaction to the bite.
This does not completely eliminate the effects – even if a dog is vaccinated, it will still need veterinary attention as soon as possible if bitten. The vaccine itself only costs around $25, while one vial of anti-venom runs anywhere from $500 to $1000. A vaccinated dog will need much less anti-venom, so you are not only saving your dog’s life, but also tons of money!
- Use a 6 foot leash.
On a 6 foot leash, you and your dog can easily avoid a snake if you see or hear its rattle ahead of you.
According to vets, most snake bites occur when a dog is on a retractable leash or none at all. If the length is limited, you can easily pull your pup to a safe distance.
- Avoid areas with dense brush, grass, or rocks.
When walking with your dog, skip narrow trails bordered with bushes when you can. Instead, choose wide roads or trails and stay on the path.
Doing so will allow you to see a sunbathing snake more easily and give you time to properly avoid it. At home, keep your grass cut short and get rid of potential hiding and sunning spots, such as bushes and piles of rocks.
- Keep the snakes out of your yard.
You may have a nice fence that keeps Max inside, but a snake can slip right through unless it is properly reinforced.
Fencing should have a cement base so rattlers can’t get underneath. Add hardware cloth along the base if you have wood or iron fences, including the gates. To do this, you will have to dig deep enough to bury 22 inches of the cloth into the ground, with 18 inches above the ground, connected to the base of the fence itself.
Hardware cloth is expensive at around $100 for 100 feet, but the cost is worth it if you live in an area with a significant rattlesnake population.
- Know the symptoms of a rattlesnake-bitten dog.
Being aware of the symptoms will alert you that your dog needs veterinary care as soon as possible. If you don’t recognize the signs soon enough, it may be too late to save them.
- Immediate symptoms:
- Puncture wounds (may be bleeding)
- Severe pain
- Drooling, panting, or restlessness
- Depending on the size of your dog and the amount of venom injected, the following symptoms may occur quickly or after a few hours:
- Muscle tremors or seizures
- Weakness, lethargy, collapsing
- Slow, shallow breathing and other neurological signs
- Immediate symptoms:
- If you encounter a rattlesnake:
Back away slowly and calmly until you are out of striking distance (the length of the snake’s body) and until the rattling stops. Leave the area with caution – if there is one rattlesnake, there are probably more nearby.
- If your dog is bitten:
Carry them to the car if you can; if it can’t be done without you or the dog struggling too much, walk them instead. Limiting movement will limit how quickly the venom spreads, which gives you more time to act. Then, get your dog to a vet immediately! The sooner you get them to the vet for anti-venom and emergency treatment, the more likely they are to survive.
Some areas at higher risk offer aversion training, or “rattlesnake proofing”. This typically involves your dog getting a strong electric shock upon “finding” a snake (a real, de-venomed snake). They receive praise after they are zapped and yelping in pain, then you call them back.
This method might be worth it in extreme cases if your pup is around rattlesnakes daily, but with the humane tips above, the majority of dog owners will be able to keep their furry friend safe without painful training.
If you are interested in labradoodle or goldendoodle puppies for sale, check out our many locations across the country.