Rattlesnakes are a fact of life, living here in Utah. Prevention is the best course of action.
According to the Utah State University Extension, there are 31 species of snakes in Utah. Seven of them are poisonous.
If you are out hiking or walking with your pet, chances are your pet is going to be curious of a snake and investigate. Many times, they are bitten.
Preventing Snake Bites
There are classes for Rattlesnake Avoidance Training for your dog offered through www.snakesafe.com. To find out more about avoidance training, please visit the website.
It is estimated that 150,000 dogs and cats get bitten by venomous snakes every year. The same report states that it is 300 times more likely to be bitten by venomous snakes than to get rabies. Rattlesnake bites are about 25 times more fatal in dogs than in humans. Even dogs that survive the bite can be permanently damaged.
Most of our local veterinarians carry the Rattlesnake Vaccine that will slow down the process. This vaccine is given twice the first year (the second vaccination should be given one month after the first vaccination) and then it is yearly thereafter. Our investigation found that depending upon the vet, the prices for these shots range from $25.00 to $52.70. Most of the veterinarians do not charge an office visit. It is considered included in the vaccination.
The vaccine stimulates a dog to create his own antibodies to rattlesnake venom that will protect him from bites that happen in the future. The vaccine has been reported to both delay the effects and reduce the severity of rattlesnake bites and help dogs survive and recover more quickly with less pain and swelling. A nationwide survey of 720 veterinary clinics showed about 90% of clinics that had treated vaccinated dogs for snake bite said that the vaccine works well or very well.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO in the event a snake bites your dog?
The veterinarian will monitor your pet and antihistamines may be administered. IV fluids may also be given to help prevent low blood pressure. Oxygen is given if needed. Antibiotics are used to prevent secondary infections. Pain medication is provided as necessary. Laboratory tests to check for bleeding problems and organ damage will be performed repeatedly. Blood transfusions may be necessary in cases of severe coagulopathies. The area above and below the bite wounds may be measured every 15 minutes to monitor the edema.
What is antivenin?
The antivenin is commercially processed to neutralize the effects of the injected venom. A specific antibody is produced for each type of snake. Your dog can receive an antivenin shot which will help slow down the poisonous process but bitten dogs should be brought to the vet immediately after a bite regardless if they have had the rattlesnake vaccine or not.
Unfortunately, none of our local veterinarians carry the antivenin that is given after being bitten, as it is quite costly. The antivenin is commercially processed to neutralize the effects of the injected venom. A specific antibody is produced for each type of snake.
According to Drs. Foster and Smith @ PetEducation.com this antivenin should be administered within 4 hours after the bite because it becomes less effective the longer you wait.
What happens when bitten by a venomous snake?
Venomous snakebites cause severe pain, cell death, numbness, diminished function and, occasionally, loss of a limb. Snake venoms inflict local effects such as inflammation, damage to blood vessel lining, clotting defects and localized tissue destruction. Some venom can also cause neurotoxicity and interfere with nerve transmission resulting in paralysis.
For more information, please see the following links: