How to Protect Your Dog from Rattlesnakes on the Trail

Posted by Kat Tretina

Rattlesnakes are surprisingly common, living in forests, deserts, swamps, wetlands and mountains.

Rattlesnakes are most active in the spring through the fall, exactly the same time when more pet owners venture outside with their pets for hikes and other outdoor activities.

Dogs are very prone to rattlesnake bites; in fact, they are 20 times more likely to get bitten than people. Unfortunately, they are also 25 times more likely to die if bitten.

The lethal snake venom can work quickly, taking effect before you even realize your pet has been attacked. If you live in an area where rattlesnakes are present, and many people do, follow these steps to protect your canine companion.

Get the Vaccine for Rattlesnakes

There is a vaccine specifically designed for rattlesnake bites that reduces the impact of the venom, but does not completely eliminate it. Available for as little as $25, the vaccine is made from snake venom and slows down the effects.

That means you still need to get medical attention for your dog ASAP, but it gives you more time to get your dog there to get the appropriate anti-venom.

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Additionally, the vaccine can reduce the amount of anti-venom needed for your pet. Since the anti-venom can cost hundreds of even thousands of dollars, the vaccine is a cost-effective way to protect your pet.

Keep Your Dog on Leash

Many bites occur when your dog wanders off the path to investigate a smell. You can prevent that from happening by keeping your dog on a leash at all times on a hike.

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While you might feel bad limiting his freedom, it is worth it for his safety.

Snake-Proof Your Yard

If you live in an area with rattlesnakes, make your yard inhospitable for snakes. They prefer areas with hiding places, tall grass so they can hunt rodents, and places to sun themselves. Keep your grass cut short, eliminate fallen logs or rocks, and trim down bushes to minimize places they can hide.

If you have a rattlesnake problem and have many in your yard, hire a professional removal company to take the snakes away.

Recognize Bite Symptoms

Symptoms of a rattlesnake bite include puncture wounds, obvious signs of pain like whimpering or limping, swelling, drooling, or heavy panting and lethargy.

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As soon as you recognize these symptoms, get the dog to a veterinarian right away. If possible, carry the dog; physical activity can speed the venom's progress.

Rattlesnakes are common across the United States, and if you and your dog spend time outside, it's important to be prepared. By taking these safety measures, you can keep your buddy healthy.

Infographic-WOP-SnakesHave you seen a rattler on the trail with your dog? Tell us what you did in the comments below. 

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How to Protect Your Dog from Rattlesnakes on the Trail