RATTLESNAKE DANGER FOR DOGS
by Russ Avison
Rattlesnakes, swimming pools and hot cars are just some of the dangers facing your pet this summer. Many times we are having so much fun that we fail to keep a close eye on our dog and what the dog is doing.
This week I would like to focus on Rattlesnake bites. Rattlesnake bites can often be avoided with some precautionary measures. Knowing what to do if a bite does occur can greatly increase your dog's chance for survival.
* 25% of adult rattlesnake bites are dry, with no venom injected. (Brown, 1997)
* Rattlesnakes can only strike a distance equal to 1/2 their own length
Rattlesnake avoidance clinics are held throughout Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Most of the clinics last about four hours, need only be taken once a year and are relatively inexpensive - about $60. For the most part completion of the course almost guarantees your dog will gladly avoid any snake it encounters. Some dogs will even stay clear of coiled garden hoses as well.
What should you do if a rattler bites your dog? Try to stay calm. Do not apply ice, a tourniquet or suction. Keep the dog as still as possible. Even if your dog has had a dose of rattlesnake vaccine, time is of the essence.
1. Look for swelling; bite wounds where fangs may have entered, and noticeable discomfort, such as lameness or difficulty breathing (if bitten in the face). These are signs that a venomous snake may have bitten your dog.
2. Transport your dog to your veterinarian immediately if he's showing any signs of snakebite.
3. Avoid wasting time by washing the wound. Also, avoid cutting the bite area in an effort to drain venom, as this can lead to other serious injury or infection.
4. Keep your dog still, quiet and warm during transport. Any movement could cause the venom to spread.
5. Attempt to identify the snake if possible, but avoid getting bitten yourself.
6. Wash the wound if a nonpoisonous snake has bitten your dog. If you're unsure if the snake was venomous, take your dog to the veterinarian.
Know where the nearest pet emergency clinic is located and get your friend to the doctor. The dog will need antibiotics and a dose of anti-venom medicine to combat the effects (unable to bear weight, effects of toxins and rapid, noticeable swelling) of a snake bite, blood work and pain medication and constant observation for the first day or two.
Talk with your veterinarian to see if they carry snake vaccine or anti-venom medication. Ask them about it, it could give you the first line of defense and enough time to get to the ER. Check out a snake avoidance clinic through your dog trainer, vet or local gun dog club. Give the dog a chance to be there for you.
Russ Avison, Fillmore resident and owner of Canine Logic has been training dogs and their parents for over seven years. Classes are held in Fillmore at the Grand K-9 Ranch and Westlake Village. The Grand K-9 Ranch is home to Canine Logic dog training, All dogs rule! boarding facility and Contact Point Agility Center. Russ can be reached at 805/524-5100 or SmartPets@aol.com.