Keeping Your Dog Safe From Snakebite

Spring is often a time when many animals become more active or come out of hibernation. Some of these animals are rattlesnakes and they can pose a serious problem for your dog if you're not prepared. Even if you live in the city, rattlesnakes may be present around your home or neighborhood park. Generally, they try to remain hidden and aren't aggressive, but if they are startled or feel threatened, they can strike out and bite and cause injury or death to your pet. However, there's no need to worry about these reptiles as there are ways to prevent these tragedies from happening. Here's a few ways to avoid a snakebite and keep your dog safe.

Snake-proof your yard:

Snakes like to live in areas where there are a lot of hiding places. The more disordered the yard, the more it will be an attraction for them. Not only do they like all the cool hiding places, so do their prey: rodents. Keep your lawn and bushes trimmed, and clear out piles of wood and debris. If you must keep a wood pile, try to keep your dog away from it. Make sure that there are no holes in your fences wide enough for a snake to enter, or surround your yard with a snake-proof fence.

Snake proof your dog:

Work with a trainer to teach your dog rattlesnake avoidance so that your dog will know to back off whenever a snake is encountered. When walking your dog, make sure you use a standard, 6- to 8-foot leash at all times and keep your dog close to your side. If you live in a rattlesnake-prone area, find out if your dog is eligible to receive a rattlesnake vaccine, especially if you live near western diamondbacks, which the vaccine is based on. It will probably not prevent your dog from dying from a snakebite, but it may extend his or her life long enough to make the trip to the nearest emergency animal hospital.

If your dog still gets bitten despite taking precautions, he or she will need immediate veterinary attention. The first signs of a bite is bleeding and swelling around the bite followed by tremors and vomiting later. Keep your dog calm and still and do not apply tourniquets or give any medication without your veterinarian's consent. The amount of time it takes for the poison to spread through the system depends on the size of your dog and the type of rattlesnake involved. The sooner you get your dog to an emergency veterinarian after a snake bite, the more likely he or she will survive with minimal tissue damage.