Rattlesnake Safety for Dogs


This time of year the great outdoors seem to be constantly on our minds. Spending time outside, hiking, swimming, camping, whatever it is that calls to us is always more fun with our canine friends by our side. We are fortunate here in Southern California to have beautiful weather year round, but our warmer weather also makes for the perfect climate for venomous snakes. Spring through Fall is rattlesnake season and a hike on a beautiful day can take a turn for the worse for your four legged friend if they encounter one of these dangerous snakes. Their curious nature can get them into trouble. According to the Animal Medical Center of southern California, dogs are 20 times more likely to be bit and 25 times more likely to die then people are from snake bites.

One of the best ways to protect them is by keeping them on a leash. Sometimes it can be hard to do that, we love to see them run, sniff the exciting smells of the season, getting in tune with their adventurous instinct. But keeping your dogs on their leashes could save their lives!  Snakebites are not only life threatening but extremely painful, expensive to treat and can cause permanent damage. There are many variables that determine the degree of damage from a snake bite such as the age and species of the snake, the location of the bite, and the size and health of the dog. Smaller dogs will have a harder time fighting off the venom than larger dogs. Treatment for rattlesnake bites can be extensive. The venom’s toxicity affects the integrity of the blood vessels, swelling can be dramatic and the venom can disrupt the normal blood clotting mechanisms leading to uncontrolled bleeding.

Here are some tips from PETMD on keeping your dogs safe:

  • While out walking, controlling your dog with a leash may be your best safety device.
  • Do not allow your dog to explore holes in the ground or dig under logs, flat rocks, or planks.
  • Stay on open paths where there is an opportunity for snakes to be visible
  • Keep nighttime walks to a minimum, rattlers are nocturnal most of the year
  • If you hear a rattlesnake, keep your dog at your side until you locate the snake and then move away

If your dog does get bit try to identify the snake by taking note of its size, color patterns and whether or not there is a rattle at the end of the tail. Get your dog to a veterinarian immediately while keeping your dog as quiet as possible. If you have a small dog carry them if you can.

There are vaccines on the market for rattlesnake bites, these vaccines do not protect dogs from being bitten but rather helps reduce the severity in the case where they are bit. The Canine Rattlesnake Vaccines are intended for healthy dogs, if you and your dog are active and enjoy spending time off the beaten path please talk to your vet about the Canine Rattlesnake Vaccine as a safety precaution and information regarding the effects.

Enjoy the summer and please keep your dog safe!



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  • Nancy Peterson
    commented 2015-05-26 17:21:04 -0700
    Keep your dogs on leash! Both of my dogs had snake avoidance training two years in a row, and both were bitten by small rattlesnakes two-four months after the last training while in our snake-fenced backyard. HSVC’s recommendations are the best!
  • Louis Combs
    commented 2015-05-26 12:00:13 -0700
    Also snake avoidance training for dogs is good to have