What to do to keep my dog safe from venomous snakes
Most snakes in Colorado are not poisonous but look up the list of venomous snakes snakes in Colorado and you will note they all have one thing in common. They all sport a rattle. The four types of rattlesnakes in Colorado are the prairie, midget faded, massasauga, and western diamondback.
We know to stay away from the deadly rattlers but what happens in that chance encounter. We explore safety, prevention, training, and medical attention in the following.
How to identify a Colorado Rattlesnake
- There tail has a rattle
- Fangs behind their teeth
- Facial pits between nostrils and eyes
- Thin pupils that look like small black slashes
- Head is a broad triangle
- Can grow up to 4 feet with an average length of 2.5
- Often bullsnakes are confused with rattles because they have similar markings and vibrate their tail on vegetation mimicking a rattle
Are dogs more at risk than humans when it comes to snake bites?
For dogs it is not always clear to a dog to stay away from poisonous snakes. This makes them 20x more likely to be bitten. Dogs are also 20% more likely to die from a venomous snake bite. Venomous snake bites can kill your pet, destroy its skin and muscle, and can cause permanent damage to the liver, kidney, heart, neurological, and joints costing thousands of dollars in professional care. If you or your pet is ever bitten by a venomous snake seek immediate medical attention.
Snakes and Their Habitat
Snakes have a surprising way of being anywhere. However, there are some areas to avoid if you are trying to reduce your likelihood of seeing rattlers. Avoid rocky terrain, dense brush, and overgrown grassy areas. I know whether you are the avid outdoorsy type or just the weekend hiker this is Colorado and these areas are everywhere. But if you stay on wide paths and in shorter grass areas you are more likely to see a snake sunning itself at a safe distance before a possibly deadly encounter. Snakes bask in the sun whether that is on rocks, trails, and other warm areas to raise their blood temperature. The warmer the snake the faster and more aggressive it may become. Avoid baby rattlesnakes while adult snakes tend to avoid striking and often reserve their venom baby snakes will generally strike and drop their venom.
How do I avoid the chances of an aggressive / deadly snake encounter?
This is a tough one because when off leash a dog covers so much ground. CSU recommends you keep your dog on a 6ft leash at all times. For most this is impossible because what is the fun of being outdoors on your favorite hike with your dog on a leash? I would recommend always carrying a leash to clip up if needed. Teach your dog aversion techniques (give link http://dogcare.dailypuppy.com/teach-dog-avoid-snakes-1682.html ) Do not let your dog explore the bigger rocky areas on a trail as this provides perfect dens for snakes. If there is a field with tall grass keep your dogs out as it is harder for them to see the snake before it is too late. Always keep your dog on voice and site control. Look for the behavior of your companion. If they are paying to much attention to an area or continues to jump back they may be an encounter with a snake.
You and your dog have encountered a rattlesnake, now what?
Remain calm. Your dog and the snake will recognize the panic and danger energy you exert. Calmly back up out of striking range about 2/3 the length of the snake and make sure there is only one. Remember, if your dog senses fear most dogs will switch into resource guarding mode and try to protect you from the snake. Often, when a dog is in this mode they are hard to control as their natural instinct tells them to protect you at all costs. Continue to back up until the snake stops rattling.
What are the symptoms of a venomous snake bite?
Generally snakes strike dogs in the face / head area. Immediately you may see puncture wounds that are bleeding. Often the dog shows signs of severe pain and swelling. As time goes on you will notice lethargic tendencies and weakness. Depressed respiration and muscles tremors also set in.
What to do if your dog gets bit
Seek immediate medical attention! Keep your furry friend calm. DO not get over excited yourself as dogs sense this energy and get worked up themselves. Minimize or greatly limit their activity. If you are not by your home, car, and cannot carry your pet out let them walk slowly and calmly to your destination. Applying tourniquets have little benefits and causes you to lose valuable time. Snakebite suction kits generally will not work effectively as the fur on the skin prevents a suction from being made and also waste valuable time. Keep your companion hydrated. If you have Benedryl administer it this will lower the swelling but remember a small dog needs less than a child’s dose. Use your phone to call ahead to the closest veterinary clinic. It helps them to know what they are dealing with before you bring your dog in.
Please keep your furry companions safe. Re-post or pass this information to a friend. The dogs life this saves just might be theirs. If your activities bring you and your dog out to snake country frequently it may be beneficial to invest in a snake bite vaccination kit. They generally range from $25-$50 at your vet.
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Have you and your dog ever had an encounter with a rattlesnake? Let us know about it and tell us and the blog followers what you did and the outcome.
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