Rattlesnake Bites in Pets

Rattlesnake Bites in Pets

Rattlesnakes are everpresent in Medicine Hat and area. Rattlesnakes are venomous members of the pit viper family. The venom of the prairie rattlesnake is a hemotoxin that affects the blood and lymphatic system and causes pain and rapid swelling. Rattlesnakes are rarely aggressive and will avoid human contact when they can.(Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division; Resource Status and Assessment Branch; Alberta Specieas at Risk Report No.40)
Every year, however, there are dogs that come in with snake bites. Most snake bites are not lethal. The first thing that most owners will notice is an increasing swelling. Dogs are not given antivenom, but instead are treated supportively. Treatment may include, but not be limited to, hospital time with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, non-steroidal antiinflammatories, and cool compresses on the affected areas. Occasionally you can see the bite mark where the fangs went in. The severity of the case depends alot on the severity of the bite, and the size of the animal. Small dogs, or dogs that have taken multiple strikes may present in a more critical condition.
Things you can do when in rattlesnake territory are:

  • Stay on trails; avoid rock piles and bushes.
  • Stay out of long grass – snakes are perfectly camouflaged to
  • hide well in the grass (snake in the grass!);
  • Don’t put hands and feet in cracks, holes and crevices, or in or under bushes;
  • Don’t touch or handle snakes that look dead. Sometimes mature rattlesnakes have no rattle, so DO NOT handle any snakes!
  • Don’t poke snakes, or throw things at them. You will disturb them and make them more likely to strike.

Rattlesnakes will often BUT NOT ALWAYS make a distinctive buzzing sound with their rattles if you approach too closely. If you hear this sound, do not panic. Stand still and look around you until you locate the snake. Do not jump back first. Often rattlesnakes will not rattle until you have passed by, so one could be right behind you! Once you see the snake, slowly move away from it. Rattlesnakes usually only strike at a human if they feel threatened by being cornered, or stepped on.[www.albertaparks.ca/pubsandmedia/WOS_Rattlesnakes.pdf]

Prairie rattlesnake

One response to “Rattlesnake Bites in Pets”

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