Tips to keep your dog safe from rattlesnake bites

Veterinarians are asking pet owners to keep their dogs on a leash and be alert of rattlesnakes as temperatures start to heat up.

BOULDER, Colo — While enjoying a hike along the foothills or anywhere in our state during Spring and Summer, pet owners are asked to keep their dogs on a leash and be alert of rattlesnakes as temperatures start to heat up.

Rattlesnake sightings are common between April-October. Dr. Lindsey Geiger at Veterinary Emergency Group has already seen two dogs that were struck by a rattlesnake this month.

“The most common spots on these bites are on the muzzle or the front limb, since dogs go down to sniff,” said Geiger. “When the dogs arrive to us, they’re brought back to our treatment area right away and we get to work immediately. The biggest thing is pain management and getting some anti-venom in as quickly as possible.”

When a dog is bitten by a rattlesnake, oftentimes dogs have severe swelling right away.

“When an animal arrives to us, the first step is to get an IV and we can start administrating medications. We would keep them in the hospital for 12-24 hours for monitoring,” said Geiger.

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The longer the treatment is delayed, the more detrimental the venom can be and if a wound, where the bite happened, is left untreated it can become infected.

“If they’re feeling well, they can go back home, but they still do require some close monitoring. Sometimes the skin can become infected and then we have to do some wound management from there,” said Geiger.

Next time you’re on a trail, keep your dog on a leash and avoid letting them sniff around in brush and rock piles. Most rattlesnake bites occur when a snake is surprised, so keeping your dog under control and away can help prevent this from happening.

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