If you are an outdoorsy type, chances are, you have encountered at least a few snakes while on the trails or exploring nature. Each year, thousands of dogs get bitten by snakes, an estimated 150,000. Much of these bites are from rattlesnakes, but there are other venomous snakes to be aware of, too, especially if you travel to areas where there are other species of snakes. 

The good news, though, is that you can keep your pawed pal protected through education, awareness, and precautionary measures. Let’s take a closer look as your friends at Redwood Veterinary Hospital explore the topic of snakes safety and dogs.

Snakes in Our Midst

There are an estimated 33 different species of snakes in our region. Only six of these are venomous, and they are all types of rattlesnakes. The most commonly seen snake is the large but harmless gopher snake. Other non-venomous snakes include the California Kingsnake and Coachwhips. 

The Pacific Rattlesnake is the most worrisome of these slithering reptiles, and the rattlesnake is responsible for most bites to humans and animals each year. 

The rattlesnake is a member of the pit viper family, which includes copperheads and water moccasins. When they bite, they release a toxic substance into the bloodstream of their victim. This neurotoxin causes pain, bruising, decreased vision, difficulty swallowing, changes in blood pressure, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, and respiratory failure.

Without treatment, and depending on the size and health of your pet as well as the bite location, a bite from a rattlesnake is life-threatening. If you suspect your pet has been bitten, call your veterinarian right away or get them to the nearest emergency animal hospital.

Preventing a Snake Bite Emergency

Considering the seriousness of a venomous snake bite, it’s important to know what to do to avoid this veterinary emergency. The good news is that snakes want to avoid us as much as we want to avoid them. Most snake  bites only happen when the snake feels threatened. To avoid this happening, follow these precautions:

  • Keep your pet on a leash while walking, hiking, or enjoying the great outdoors.
  • Consider snake bite aversion classes, which trains your pet to steer clear of reptiles.
  • If you spot a snake, give them a wide berth and move away from the area with your pet by your side.
  • Never let your dog root around in tall grasses, around rocks, under trees, and other spots where snakes hide.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about the rattlesnake vaccine. It is a good way to lessen the effects of a snake bite and give you more time to get your pet treated. If your pet is outdoors a lot, speak to us about this vaccine.

Snake Safety and Dogs

While dogs are more commonly bitten, be aware of the risk to cats and other animals who are allowed outdoors. Supervise them or train your cat to walk on a leash using a harness.

Snake safety and dogs is an essential topic for those who enjoy the great outdoors with our besties. Be prepared for snake encounters by following our tips. If you would like more information, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us