The Power of Prevention: Rattlesnakes and Pets
Californians are no strangers to rattlesnakes. Like it or not, they are a part of our landscape and we must learn to live alongside them safely. As humans, we adapt to and avoid disturbing them, but our animal friends do not always catch on as quickly.
Rattlesnakes and pets shouldn’t mix. Preventing a bite is preferable to treating one, leaving proactive pet owners searching for ways to protect their four-legged family members. At Goldorado Animal Hospital, we take teaching our clients about rattlesnakes and pets very seriously.
Taming the Serpent
Part of preventing rattlesnake bites is understanding the snake. If you are careful, it is quite possible that you can avoid snake encounters altogether.
Snakes tend to frequent areas with small prey and places to hide. Brush, rocks, and other crevices make excellent hiding places.
Remember that reptiles are also cold-blooded, meaning that they are likely to be out sunning themselves in the warmer parts of the day and hidden when the sun isn’t out. This knowledge will provide some clues as to where you are most likely to find snakes at any given time.
Be sure to keep your yard tidy and free of things that rodents may find tempting. Anywhere these animals are, snakes are likely to be as well. Being sure that your pet’s day-to-day environment is not so snake-friendly can help avoid encounters.
When out enjoying nature, be sure to keep to marked trails. Avoid moving logs, rocks, or other debris when possible, as these are likely snake hiding places.
Rattlesnakes and Pets
Snakes don’t bother us unless we bother them first. Even a rattlesnake will not attack unless it feels threatened. When it comes to rattlesnakes and pets, there are several things that you can do to stop trouble in its tracks.
- Do not allow your pet to get close to wildlife
- Keep your pet on secure, six-foot leash when snakes are likely present
- Teach your pet to come on command
- Make sure that your pet understands the command “leave it”
- Consider rattlesnake aversion training
A rattlesnake bite is a true emergency. If you suspect that your pet has been bitten, waste no time in seeking veterinary attention.
For pets in high-risk areas, such as here in northern California, vaccination against rattlesnake venom is wise. This vaccine does not eliminate worry entirely, but rather it provides pet owners precious extra time to seek veterinary help.
In our area an initial vaccination followed by a booster 4 weeks later, and then annually thereafter, will help protect your pet in the spring and throughout rattlesnake season.
Vaccination helps to provide immunity for about six months, so it is important to booster your pet’s vaccine in the spring, as snakes are most active in the summer months.