Hiking in nature with dogs always brings an added layer of complication. Dogs are curious creatures who run through tall grass and brush without care or consideration there could be poisonous snakes.
When hiking in areas with rattlesnakes or other poisonous snakes, your local emergency veterinary clinic advises you to educate yourself about what to do in the case of a strike.
Snakes Rarely Aggressively Bite Dogs or Humans
Many people believe that a rattlesnake will chase you or your pet down to bite. Nothing could be further from the truth. Snakes bite when they feel threatened. If your dog steps on a snake or tries to bite it, then the snake will defend itself by striking. Snakes can't control their body temperature and sun themselves on rocks and roads during the day and live under rocks or in burrows when it is cold.
By looking for snakes sunning themselves and avoiding excessively rocky areas, you eliminate opportunities for your dog to encounter snakes.
Evaluating Your Dog's Condition
Not all venomous snakes inject poison when they bite. However, when a snake strikes your dog, you don't have any way to know if it did or not. The location of the bite is also a consideration. A snake bite on a leg will take longer to circulate venom than a bite to the abdomen because it is closer to the heart.
Signs of a venomous snake bite include:
- sudden collapse
- excessive muscle weakness
- twitching muscles
In addition, the dog can become paralyzed from its body's reaction to the venom.
Field Treatment for Snake Bites
When you see a snake strike your dog, it's vital you immediately take the following actions:
- wash the wound with an ample amount of clean water
- keep the dog still and unexcited by being calm yourself
- contact your local ER vet clinic and let them know you are on your way to see them
Look at the snake for ID purposes but never attempt to catch or kill it because you may also be bitten.
A Note About Snake Bite Fatality in Dogs
Finally, it is essential to note that many dogs survive bites from rattlesnakes and other venomous snakes in the United States. The dogs that survive are quickly taken to a local ER veterinary clinic for antivenom treatment.
If your dog is bitten, the most important thing you can do is not freak out and get them to the closest emergency veterinary care.
Reach out to an ER veterinary clinic to learn more.