A rattlesnake bite will always qualify as a veterinary emergency. But what more is there to know about rattlesnake bites and dogs? Here, our Banning veterinary team shares some cautionary measures, facts and how vaccinations can help your canine companion stay safe.
Protecting Your Dog From Rattlesnakes
Rattlesnakes are found throughout a wide variety of climates and habitats, ranging from forests to wetlands and deserts and from sea level to cliffs and mountains. They are the most active during warmer seasons. They can also be typically found year-round in the southern parts of the world.
Though rattlesnakes are often found where dogs roam, you’ll want to keep your canine friend away from these venomous reptiles as bites lead to serious injury and even death for thousands of dogs annually.
Is a rattlesnake bite a veterinary emergency?
Since rattlesnake venom contains a cocktail of toxins which can spread throughout a dog's body after being bitten, rattlesnake bites are rightly considered to be veterinary emergencies.
When released into your pet's bloodstream, these toxins can cause serious symptoms and pain. Even if your dog survives the effects of a rattlesnake bite, the venom may cause them permanent damage.
Which precautions should I take to keep my dog away from rattlesnakes?
Any time your dog treads into rattlesnake habitat, he or she is at risk of being bitten, particularly because dogs often follow protective instinct or become curious. Whether you and your dog live near rattlesnakes, venture into the woods while hiking or camping or travel through rattlesnake turf, caution should always be taken and dogs should be kept on a leash.
Like people, dogs may stumble on a snake by accident so it’s also important to have your dog vaccinated.
What are the benefits of rattlesnake vaccine for my dog?
Vaccines work to stimulate an animal's immune system against possibly harmful substances or agents. Rattlesnake vaccines can help your pup's body develop a protective immunity to rattlesnake venom, avoiding the worst of its effects.
Vaccination can reduce the impact of a rattlesnake’s bite if your dog does happen to get bitten, and reduce or eliminate the need for antivenom, in addition to decreasing other treatment costs.
My dog has been bitten, what should I do next?
Even if your canine companion has been vaccinated against rattlesnake venom, they should still see your veterinarian for assessment and care as quickly as possible after being bitten by a snake. Your vet will be able to tell you whether or not your dog needs further treatment.
Even bites from non-venomous snakes may lead to serious infections and your dog may require antibiotic treatment.
Treatment may require antivenom injections, which can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. These injections are also associated with an increased risk of adverse reactions that can cause complications during recovery. Other costs of treatment for rattlesnake bites may include intravenous fluids, medicines, surgery and/or hospitalization. A veterinarian is the best person to consult when making medical decisions for your dog.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.