Getting out in the summer sun is much more enjoyable when we’re safe. Safety precautions we tend to think about for our pets involve protecting them from the heat, but there’s something else to keep in mind. Snakebites.
Rattlesnakes are the most dangerous snakes in the United States, and if you live and play where they live, you need to take precautions to stay safe. This is obviously not something we want to think about, but it’s vital to know how to best protect your pets from snakebites and what to do if the unthinkable happens.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to keep your pets safe. These tips will help mitigate a lot of the risk that your pets might face this summer.
If you let your cat roam outside, summer is a good time to let her spend more time in the house. This helps keep pets safe from the summer heat, and it helps keep them safe if you live in an area where rattlesnakes are your neighbors. Also make sure your fences are secure and that there aren’t large gaps underneath to keep your dogs safer in the yard.
It’s always a good idea to keep your dog on a leash when you go for walks. Sometimes, the open space on a hike is tempting, but this can lead to trouble. Keeping your dog on a leash will help prevent run-ins with rattlesnakes.
Keep to well-worn trails with your dog where you can see what’s ahead. This will help you avoid boulders, bushes, and other places where rattlesnakes like to hide out.
Ask your veterinarian about rattlesnake avoidance training for your dog. If you live in an area where rattlesnakes are prevalent, this is time well spent.
Your vet can also offer rattlesnake vaccinations. You will still want to practice the avoidance techniques above, but getting your dog vaccinated offers that important extra layer of protection that could make all the difference.
The main thing you need to do if your pet is bitten, even if he has been vaccinated, is to get to an animal hospital right away. How soon you get your pet treated is the biggest determinant in how severe the reaction will be. Other factors include the size of your pet (a smaller pet means a higher ratio of venom to body mass), and where on the body the bite occurs.
Carry your dog if you can to help keep his heart rate down. Never try to suck out the venom. This doesn’t work, and it takes up valuable time that is better spent transporting your pet to the vet.
As always, talk with your veterinarian for more information. The more you know, the better protected you can be.
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