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Pet Safety Tips for Rattlesnake Season

In Southern California, we experience warm weather nearly all year round. It’s perfect for enjoying the outdoors, hiking with your dog and spending time in the backyard. Unfortunately, it also means that rattlesnake season extends past spring and summer and into our warm fall.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, rattlesnakes can be found from the desert to the coast and even in urban areas. It is important to be aware of these venomous snakes, know how to avoid them, and what to do if your pet comes across one.

Stay Alert

Be aware of the outdoor areas you explore with your dog. When hiking, stay on clear trails so you can see ahead of you. Before you start your hike, research the trail for current rattlesnake warnings or if there have been any recent sightings. Even while walking around your own neighborhood, be cautious at dawn, dusk, and at night, since these are the times when rattlesnakes are more active.

Keep Dogs Leashed

It is very important to keep your dog on a leash (six feet or less) while hiking or exploring the outdoors. Dogs are at high risk of coming into contact with a rattlesnake because they keep their noses to the ground, investigating their surroundings. Don’t let your dog explore holes or dig into the dirt while hiking. Keep your dog on a well-used trail and avoid going into tall grasses, where rattlesnakes might be lurking.

First Aid Kit

When hiking, experiencing the outdoors or even enjoying your backyard, it is important to have a pet first aid kit with you. Make sure your first aid kit has an ice pack, antiseptic wipes and a blanket in case of a snake bite. Here is a list of other items suggested by the Humane Society for your pet’s first aid kit.

Before you head outside with your pet, add the phone number of the nearest veterinary emergency hospital into your phone.

Coming into Contact with a Rattlesnake

If you and your dog spot a rattlesnake, slowly back away from it. Keep your eyes on the snake and keep your dog close to you until you are away from its striking distance and until it stops rattling. Then traverse around it and/or leave the area.

If your Dog has Been Bitten

Symptoms of a rattlesnake bite include puncture wounds, possible bleeding, sudden swelling, bruising, pain, and restlessness. If your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake, remain calm and focus on keeping your dog calm. Call the nearest emergency veterinary hospital and alert them about your arrival. While on your way to the veterinary hospital, keep an ice pack on the wound or turn on the air conditioner in your car to keep your pet cool.

Rattlesnakes can be dangerous, but if you and your pet don’t bother them, they are unlikely to bother you. We hope you find these tips helpful and continue to enjoy the outdoors with your pets this fall. You might even want to consider rattlesnake avoidance training for an even safer outdoor experience.

VSEC Thousand Oaks is Here for You – 24/7

VSEC Thousand Oaks is a full-service 24-hour animal hospital. We specialize in many services, including the treatment of snake bites. No appointment is ever needed for emergency services, but we do suggest you call in advance if possible, so that we may prepare for your arrival. Please call (805) 492-2436 or walk in anytime.

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