Like most wildlife, rattlesnakes become active when temperatures warm up, and spring is in full swing. Like many wild species, rattlesnakes are part of our urban environment now, as much as coyotes and raccoons. Living among these wild species, it’s important to know a bit about rattlesnake safety and your pet. The team at Carriage Hills Animal Hospital is here to help!
Like other venomous snakes, rattlesnakes get a bad rap from the human world. While these animals can cause harm, they avoid doing so in most cases and only strike when someone – or someone’s pet – invades their turf. Rattlesnakes in the Montgomery area include the Timber Rattlesnake and the Western Diamondback. The latter is Alabama’s most common large venomous snake and is often the perpetrator of many snake bite emergencies.
Consider the following tips to keep your pet safe this season:
- The rattlesnake vaccine is your first defense. It causes protective antibodies in your pet to lessen the effects of a snake bite (but does not provide 100% treatment). It’s used to improve your pet’s prognosis should they get attacked. We offer this vaccine and encourage you to call us with any questions.
- Avoid overgrown areas and rocky ledges when exploring. Keep your pet on a leash that is 6 feet or shorter.
- Keep your lawn trimmed and mowed; remove places that might be hospitable to wildlife, including snakes.
- When hiking, walk in the center of the trail with your pet. Avoid shrubbery and weeds.
- Keep your eyes on what’s ahead of you, as well as along the periphery of your walking path.
- Rattlesnakes are more active during warm weather, so consider early morning or evening walks. If you walk at night, take a headlamp along if you frequent areas where snakes are more likely to be (such as a natural area).
- Learn more about venomous snakes in the region and their behaviors.
Remember, while it’s fun to let your well-behaved dog off leash, they remain unaware of the dangers of snakes and will want to investigate. To avoid an encounter, keep your pet on a leash when out walking or hiking.
If Your Dog Gets Bit by a Rattlesnake
- Move your pet away from the area, but do not try to agitate the snake or move it away (it might strike again).
- Call us immediately or contact a local emergency clinic if you’re away from Montgomery.
- Inspect for evidence of the bite: puncture wound, swelling/bruising, difficulty breathing, whining/crying, etc.
- Keep the heart/chest elevated above the wound site.
Do NOT suck out the venom or use a tourniquet. Get your pet to the clinic immediately. You can expect a much better prognosis when your pet is treated quickly and properly. Remember, a bite from a venomous snake is always an emergency.
Alabama has its fair share of venomous snakes. Fortunately, you can coexist peacefully with these amazing creatures by educating yourself on local wildlife and following the above mentioned recommendations.
To learn more about rattlesnake safety and the vaccine, please call the team at Carriage Hills Animal Hospital.