Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rattle and Hum

Summer in the west brings wonderful long days of sun and fun. But with that sun, comes some unfriendly fellows - namely the rattlesnake.

Colorado's species include:
Listen the to the sound a Western Rattlesnake rattle.

Most North American snakes are timid and will avoid you and your pets.  Bites usually occur because the snake was harassed or surprised. If you see a snake that sees you, remember that a snake can strike only a distance of half its body length. Give the snake time to just go away. Snakes are not looking to interact with people or pets, either defensively or aggressively.

You can minimize your pet's exposure to snakes by staying on cleared, open paths while hiking.  Keep your dog on a leash and do not allow your pet to dig under rocks, logs, or explore holes.  Many species of snakes, particularly rattlesnakes, are more active at night.  You should avoid evening hikes in areas where these animals are prevalent.

If you dog or cat is bitten by a rattlesnake it is best to get your animal to your veterinarian as quickly as possible.  Carry your pet to your vehicle and try to keep him/her as quite and calm as possible.  Do not ice the area.  Do not try to cut or suck the venom out of the bite - neither are beneficial for the animal.

The venom in rattlesnake bites contains a digestive enzyme that starts to break down the tissue surrounding the bite.  The amount of swelling, pain and complications depend on the amount of venom released.  Expect swelling at the bite site with increased swelling and bruising that will spread over the area.  There are very few fatalities from rattlesnake bites.

Outcomes are best for those animals that start treatment right away.  Treatment will include IV fluids and medications to control pain and nausea. Antibiotics are also necessary to control any infection from the bite.  Some dogs are also treated with antivenin, but a vial of antivenin can range from $400 to $800 and is subject to supply restrictions.

Some veterinary experts recommend training your dog to avoid snakes.  This type of training could be very useful, but, like many training regimens, the dog will need refresher courses routinely.

The moral of story...back away from the snake or, if bitten, get "Lucky" to the vet immediately.

No comments: