Five Ways to Protect Your Pet from Rattlesnake Bites

Five Ways to Protect Your Pet from Rattlesnake Bites

September 17, 2020

Our animal hospital in Saint Francisville, LA has seen its fair share of snake bites. Rattlesnake venom is deadly to dogs and cats, and you need to see us immediately if your pet sustains a bite. Meanwhile, there are ways to keep snakes away from your pets. Here are five of them:

  • Vaccinate: There are rattlesnake vaccines for dogs and cats. If your pet is healthy, it can reduce the reaction to the bite and buy you time to get your pet to the hospital. The vaccine is made from venom, which is why it’s important that your pet not suffer any current health conditions. Pets still require vet care, but normally do not require anti-venom, which costs $500 to $1,000 per vial. When you compare that to a $25 vaccine, the cost and effort is more than worth it.
  • Snake proof your yard: When you are home, keep pets confined to your yard. “Cat fencing” is impossible to climb or for cats to dig under, so if your cat insists on going outdoors, that is one way to keep them safe. When you decide on fencing, give it a solid cement base so snakes cannot get under it. Wood or iron fences need hardware cloth along the base of the fence and across gated areas. This will keep pets in and snakes out! Trim your grass regularly so your lawn does not grow into a snake paradise.
  • Use a six-foot leash: It is easier to keep your dog away from snakes if you use a six-foot leash. If you are hiking off-leash or using a retractable leash, you will not see the snake in time to pull your dog back. Vets report that many bites result while a dog is off-leash or on a flexi-lead, so avoid those practices anywhere rattlesnakes live.
  • Stay away from rocks and dense vegetation: Snakes will sun themselves in the open, which makes them easy to avoid. If you see one, stay out of striking distance and leave the area. When hiding, snakes hang out among rocks, dense bushes and grassy areas.  Stay on marked paths where you can see any snakes, and do not wander to the side. Otherwise, you risk an encounter of the venomous kind.
  • Know the symptoms: If your dog or cat is bitten by a snake, you need to know the symptoms so you can get them to a vet as soon as possible. Immediate symptoms include a puncture wound, severe pain, swelling, restlessness and anxiety, panting and sometimes drooling. Severe symptoms indicate the bite is hours old and include lethargy, collapse, muscle tremors, diarrhea, seizures and depressed respiration. If the bite occurs on a hike, carry your dog so the venom moves slower and immediately get to the vet.

St. Francisville Animal Hospital offers emergency services for snake bites during our standard hours, but if you have an after-hours emergency, please call 225-635-4803. We hope you’ll visit our animal hospital in Saint Francisville, LA for all your pet care needs!

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