Protecting Your Dogs During Rattlesnake Season

Protecting Your Dogs During Rattlesnake Season

Snakes are most commonly seen between April and October in North America and become decidedly more aggressive during hotter months (who can blame them?). Due to this heightened irritability, poisonous snakes are more likely, then, to deliver larger doses of venom to you or your pet. Pit vipers, as they’re known, can actually control the amount that’s injected during a bite. While initial defensive strikes are usually lacking in poison, the more threatened they feel, the more venom they inject. And if they’re in pain, they typically deliver the entire load, so look out.

When Is Rattlesnake Season?

Statistically, however, spring and fall are the two times of year when you’re more apt to have a run-in with a rattlesnake. What’s so special about fall and spring for rattlers? Well, similar to Goldilocks, these reptiles prefer warm temps, but not too warm, making them prone to be more active during temperate weather. Of course, this coincides with the seasons when humans look forward to spending more time outdoors as well. If you want to be proactive, there are precautions you can take to avoid and/or mitigate encounters with these potentially deadly creatures.

Snake Avoidance Training for Dogs

For instance, you can train your dogs to steer clear of snakes and leave them be. It’s called snake avoidance training, and if you hike regularly with your pet, frequently walk them off the beaten path during outings, or your home is situated in a rural area it’s a good idea to get them some training sooner rather than later. You can also consider a rattlesnake vaccine for dogs. Depending on the size of your pet and where they’re bit, among other factors influencing severity, it could mean the difference between life and death.

Dog Vaccinations for Rattlesnake Bites

The Crotalus Atrox Toxoid, or “rattlesnake vaccine” for us non-vet types, provides canines with protection against snake bites and reduces symptoms associated with them. The rattlesnake vaccine for dogs is most effective against the western diamondback, but it also cross-protects against other rattlesnakes and gives protection against copperheads, which are noted as the most common snake bites. Both are members of the Crotalidae family, AKA pit vipers. The canine vaccines are most effective 4-6 weeks post-vaccination, with protectiveness slowly declining after that. On average, reliable protection lasts approximately 6 months after receiving it, so it’s frequently recommended pets be vaccinated in the spring. Ask your veterinarian if the shot is right for your furry friend.

Rattlesnake Bite Treatment

It’s important to point out that even if they’ve had a dog rattlesnake vaccine, you still need to bring Fido or Buttercup in to be examined by a vet to determine further treatment measures. If they are bitten, it’s recommended that you place your dog in a comfortable position, keep them calm, and try to keep the wound area lower than the heart (if possible) during transport.

This article by Rebecca West was first published by The Animal Rescue Site.

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