We at Goldorado have certainly been loving the warm spring weather and apparently we aren’t the only ones!

This week we have treated two patients who suffered rattlesnake bites. While you are out in El Dorado County with your furry companions, keep a sharp eye out for rattlesnakes and follow these simple tips to keep everyone safe:

Western_Diamondback_Rattlesnake

First, make sure your dog has received the rattlesnake vaccine!

The consequences of a bite can be seen almost immediately and can include severe pain, swelling, bleeding, and drooling. Most of our unvaccinated patients show up to the emergency room looking like this:

l54275-2

Fortunately, there is a vaccine available that is made from the rattlesnake venom and can drastically reduce the effects of an unexpected bite. Envenomation is often life threatening and treatment can involve hospitalization. The rattlesnake vaccine is a cost effective way to prevent that emergency and unexpected bills.

Sadie (pictured with her lovely nurses) was bitten by a rattlesnake in her own backyard a couple hours before this photo was taken on Wednesday.

20140409_173912[1]

 Thankfully, she was prepared and had been vaccinated against rattlesnake bites just two weeks ago. Aside from some very mild swelling and a bruised ego, Sadie is no worse for wear and was able to return home that afternoon!

Second, be rattlesnake aware. When walking about, avoid rocky or dense brush areas because snakes tend to live and hide in these types of terrain during the day. You will be much more likely to identify potential threats if you and your canine can stick to open areas and wide trails.

Also consider snake-proofing your property. Keep your yard grass cut short and eliminate brush or piles of rocks. Again, these features tend to invite snakes in to places they shouldn’t be.

Third, know what to do if you encounter a snake. Calmly & slowly back away from the snake until you are at least on snake-length away and until the snake stops rattling at you. Then carefully leave the area. If you have seen one there are likely to be other snakes close by.

Finally, if your pet has been bitten: GET THEM TO A VET IMMEDIATELY! If you can, carry your dog to your car. Limiting the dog’s activity will limit the venom moving around in their body which can limit the effects short term. The faster your dog can get the anti-venom and other emergency treatment from the vet, the greater their chance of survival.

With a little prevention and planning, everyone can have a safe and fun spring season. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments about rattlesnakes in our area, and I look forward to seeing you all out enjoying the sunshine!

– Dr. Prince