Rattlesnake season is approaching! As the weather warms up and outdoor activity increases, please remember that rattlesnakes represent a potent danger to dogs. Like all cold-blooded animals, rattlesnakes are more active in the hotter seasons. Rattlesnakes like to bask in the sun most days, increasing the chances of encountering one when hiking, camping or on a walk in the Dana Point area. Young snakes are very dangerous, as they have poor venom control and will often inject all they have into each bite. Rattlesnake venom is extremely dangerous to pets, leading to excessive swelling and necrosis of the tissue surrounding the bite wound by disrupting the integrity of the blood vessels.

Rattlesnake bites should be treated immediately at the nearest emergency facility. Treatment may include hospitalization, where your pet receives intravenous fluids and close monitoring. Depending on the severity and physical location of the bite, anti-venom medication may be necessary as well. Remember, not treating your pet could lead to death.

An effective Rattlesnake vaccination is available at Dana Niguel Veterinary Hospital. This vaccine helps reduce symptom severity by activating protective antibodies in your pet’s immune system, providing up to six months of protection. However, even for vaccinated dogs, urgent veterinary care is still required to counteract the venom and offer the best chance of recovery. Vaccination only buys you time to get to the nearest emergency facility before the more serious effects of the bite occur. Please contact your Dana Niguel Veterinary Hospital veterinarian to learn more about how the rattlesnake vaccine can benefit your pet.

The best way to keep your pet safe is to remain on the designated path, where visibility is the best. stay alert for rattlesnakes as they blend in with most mountain terrain, listen for the warning signs that you are getting close to a rattlesnake- the distinctive shaking of their tail, and keep your pet leashed and out of the brush.

For pet owners who hike often or live in the mountainous area of the Dana Point area there is Rattlesnake Aversion Training, this training has been shown to be safe and effective in helping to prevent bites by rattlesnakes. Aversion training teaches your dog to avoid the sight, sound and smell of rattlesnakes, reducing the probability of accidental encounters.