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Rattlesnakes: What You Need To Know
It’s rattlesnake season in Southern California, temperatures are rising and that means rattlesnakes will be looking for shade to cool down, possibly on your own property.  Here are 10 tips to keep you and your dog safe!
Rattlesnake Safety Tips:
  1. If you encounter a rattlesnake, SLOWLY and CALMLY back away from it until you and your dog are at a safe distance. Leave the area if possible. If you cannot avoid the area, keep a safe distance until the snake moves along. The snake already knows you are there and will eventually leave if it feels like you are no longer a threat. If a snake is on your property or in your home, keep a safe distance and contact animal services or a rattlesnake wrangler right away.
  2. If your dog gets bitten by a rattlesnake, get them to an emergency vet immediately. Remain calm so that your dog can too. It’s important to keep their heart rate down. Do not mess with the wound or try to treat it yourself. The dog should avoid physical activity to limit the venom from spreading throughout its body. Carry the dog to your car if possible, stay calm, and DRIVE SAFELY to the vet. Or if you have a mobile vet that carries anti-venom, keep your dog calm and quiet until they arrive.
  3. Keep your dog on a leash no longer than 6 feet when walking on trails. Dogs like to investigate! Most snake bites occur off-leash or on long retractable leashes.
  4. Avoid dense bushy areas where snakes (and ticks) may be hiding.
  5. Scan your path 10 feet ahead of you when walking outside. Rattlesnakes can blend in very well with their surroundings and you don’t want to be caught off guard.
  6. Sign your dog up for Rattlesnake Aversion/Avoidance Training. They will teach your dog what to do if they come across a rattlesnake.  And do your research, there is plenty of information on the web.
  7. Get your dog vaccinated. Ask your vet about rattlesnake vaccinations. They are made to reduce the pain from the bite and slow the venom from spreading. BUT it’s important to know that anti-venom is still critical and snakebites will still require emergency veterinary care, even if vaccinated.
  8. Know your symptoms! Your dog can get bitten without you noticing. Symptoms of a rattlesnake bite include:
    1. Puncture wounds (with or without bleeding)
    2. Extreme pain
    3. Significant swelling
    4. Restlessness, panting, or drooling
    5. Lethargy, weakness, collapse
    6. Muscle tremors
    7. Diarrhea
    8. Seizures
    9. Depressed respiration
  9. Do your research about rattlesnake safety, there is plenty of information online.
  10. Rattlesnakes are the only venomous snakes in the San Diego area, but they are not hunting you or your dog. They are either looking for dinner or a date, so give them space.
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