What’s that SSSSound? Snake Safety for Pets 101

A dog's paw near a snake

The sight of a snake slithering across their path evokes a variety of responses in people. While some of us appreciate their beauty and power, many of us react with fear or even panic.

Of the roughly 35 species of snakes in California, six of them are highly venomous, making snake safety for pets an important topic to our readers. Whether you find these reptiles fascinating or revolting, it’s important to recognize the very real threat they pose to our four-legged companions.

The Low Down

Rattlesnakes are widespread in California and make their homes in every type of habitat, including river banks, parks, golf courses, and more. Once their venom is injected, it acts immediately, compromising blood vessels near the bite and causing intense pain and swelling. The venom also affects the blood’s clotting properties, which may lead to the loss of large amounts of blood.

A rattlesnake bite can kill a pet if left untreated – it should be considered a life-threatening emergency.

Snake Safety for Pets

Avoiding a snake encounter to begin with is always preferable. Responsible pet owners can practice snake safety for pets with the following tips:

  • Stay on the trail. Keep your dog leashed and by your side at all times. Don’t stray from maintained paths and trails, and stop your pet from nosing around in the brush or investigating rodents holes where snakes may be hiding.
  • Protect your property. Snakes live on a diet of small animals, mainly rodents. Make your property less hospitable to rodents by keeping grass and brush trimmed and by removing piles of wood or debris.
  • Watch the water. Rattlesnakes can swim, and something that looks like a stick or branch floating on the water may actually be a snake. Always supervise your dog while in the water.
  • Make training a priority. An obedient dog who comes when called makes for a less dangerous situation, especially when it comes to a snake encounter. Make basic obedience training a priority for your dog’s safety.
  • Know what to do if you encounter a snake. Snakes are introverted and really just want to be left alone! If you see a snake, back away quietly and calmly. Snakes have a 5-6 foot striking reach, so don’t attempt to jump over or go around it.
  • Consider vaccinating your pet. Certain dogs may benefit from the rattlesnake vaccine. This can help buy time in the event of a bite, although vaccinated pets still need immediate medical care. Your veterinarian can help you determine if the vaccine is right for your pet.

Know How to Respond

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, pets still get bitten by rattlesnakes. If this happens, don’t panic. Stay calm, and bring them in to our hospital or a nearby emergency clinic right away. Don’t delay – the sooner treatment begins, the better prognosis your pet will likely receive.

If you have any additional questions about snake safety for pets, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital.