Skip to main content

From early spring to mid fall, rattlesnakes are out of hibernation and are a more common sight in Colorado. The most common rattlesnake seen along the Front Range is the prairie rattlesnake, preferring rocky canyons and open prairies that contain small mammal burrows for it to hide in. However, when we build our homes on the edge of wildlife areas, encounters with humans and our pets become more and more frequent.
This Blue Sky patient was hiking with her owner along Devil’s Backbone when she wandered off trail for just a second. Then her owner heard her yelp – what could have happened? It was thought to have been just a bug bite until her neck started swelling. Her owner rushed her to Blue Sky where she was treated for shock and had antivenin (antivenom) administered. Soon, her breathing and the swelling improved and after several hours of close monitoring, she was able to go home the same day with her owner.
Tips for Rattlesnake Bite Prevention for Pets:
– Keep your dogs on a short leash and stick to trails (this is the law in natural areas). Off-trail hiking can stir up snakes.
– Don’t let your pet dig under rocks and/ or logs or explore holes. These are perfect hiding places for snakes.
– Stay vigilant and keep control of your pet at all times.
– Don’t let your pet examine “road kill” snakes. Dead rattlesnakes can still have muscle contractions after death and may still pose a threat – some have been known to “bite” even after they’re dead.
So What Do You Do If Your Pet Has Been Bitten?
– Do NOT attempt to kill or capture the snake.
– Do NOT allow your pet to move about freely.
– Do NOT cut over the fang marks and attempt to drain the venom.
– Do NOT manipulate the bite area more than necessary. Instead, immobilize the area (if it can be done safely), trying to keep it at or below the level of the heart.
– Do NOT apply a tourniquet or apply ice to the bite area!
– Do NOT administer any medication to your pet without a veterinarian’s authorization!
– Seek emergency veterinarian attention immediately!
Snakebites are a serious, complex problem that are best treated by your veterinarian. If your pet is bitten by a snake, the best thing to do is assume the bite is venomous and seek veterinary attention immediately.

Leave a Reply