Many of us love to take advantage of the warm summer weather by walking or hiking with our dogs. But if you live in, or plan on traveling to, rattlesnake territory, there are a few things you should know prior to hitting the great outdoors.
Rattlesnakes prefer warm weather and are most energetic from March to December, tending to be most active when temps hover around 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Rattlesnake venom affects clotting in the blood, and a bite can be fatal if left untreated.
Symptoms are usually immediately apparent, but can be delayed depending on the amount of venom injected, your dog’s size, and the location of the bite. Immediate symptoms include panting and excessive drooling, and can escalate into collapse, decreased breathing, tremors and seizures.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it’s especially true when it comes to dogs and rattlesnake poisoning. It makes much more sense to take a few simple precautions beforehand rather than having your dog (and your wallet) go through the agony that can come with a rattlesnake encounter.
First off, keep your dog on a four to eight foot leash when you’re in rattlesnake territory; your pooch will be near enough for you to identify a potential threat and pull him to safety if need be.
Snakes love to lurk out of sight in dense brush, rocky areas, and tall grasses, so don’t let your dog wander off into these types of terrain, no matter how much he begs!
What should you do if a rattlesnake encounter becomes a reality? Try to keep a calm demeanor, and back away as quickly but quietly as possible. If you can leave the area behind, consider doing so; if not be extra vigilant for additional snakes.
If the worst case scenario happens and your pet is bitten, you must seek immediate medical attention. Keep your dog as calm as possible (in order to slow down the movement of venom), and take your pet to the closest veterinary clinic for emergency treatment.
If your pet is exhibiting snakebite symptoms, treatment (including antibiotics, IV fluids, and pain medication) may be initiated even before his lab results come back. And, it’s quite possible that your dog may need to remain hospitalized until the poison is eliminated from his system completely.
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Besides the terrible trauma inflicted on your dog, your wallet may be in for a shock as well: typical treatment costs can reach into the thousands of dollars.
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