Rattlesnake Safety for Dogs and Cats in Stevenson Ranch, CA
Rattlesnakes are a bigger risk for dogs and cats than humans. Pets are naturally very inquisitive, and they don’t understand the dangers associated with these fascinating reptiles. That’s why it’s up to us to make sure our pets stay out of trouble. Rattlesnakes can be found throughout our state, including here in Stevenson Ranch. Six out of California’s 33 species of snake are venomous, and all of those are rattlesnakes. According to the ASPCA, at least 100,000 venomous snake bites occur in dogs and cats every year, with the mortality rate ranging from 1 to 30 percent.
Our animal hospital is available Monday through Saturday to answer any questions you have, or treat your pet for a possible snakebite injury.
How to Spot a Rattlesnake
Rattlesnakes are not identifiable by their infamous rattle alone. Some rattlesnakes may not even have a rattle, either because they have not yet developed it or because of an injury. To recognize a rattlesnake, look for these characteristics:
- Vertical, slit pupils
- Broad, spade-shaped head
- Small holes located between the eyes and nostrils, which are used for sensing heat
- Thick, non-glossy body
Rattlesnakes are able to blend seamlessly into their environment thanks to their natural camouflage, so tread lightly and keep your eyes sharp!
Preventing an Encounter Between a Rattlesnake and Your Pet
Keeping an eye on your pet and limiting their ability to wander can greatly lower their chances of running into a rattlesnake. If you have a dog, keep them on a leash and watch where you’re walking. If you have a cat, don’t let them wander out of the house. Consider investing in a catio (if possible) so your feline can enjoy the outdoors close to home and in safety.
On walks, steer your dog away from thick brush, tall grasses, and rocky crevices where rattlesnakes typically make their home. Always keep an eye on the path ahead, and don’t approach and/or handle fallen logs or rocks. Keep to well-worn trails that are clear of brush. If a rattlesnake happens to cross your path, back away slowly and wait until the way is clear.
How to Tell if Your Pet has been Bitten by a Rattlesnake
Rattlesnakes don’t always rattle their tails before striking. If your pet yelps in pain or begins acting as if they are sick or wounded, assume they have been bitten. Snake bites aren’t always easy to detect on pets, thanks to their fur coat, so look closely for these signs:
- Difficulty breathing or abnormal breathing
- Swelling of the airway and/or around the bite
- Sloughing of the skin
Organ failure and low blood pressure can also result from a snakebite and should be addressed by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
…and What to Do
If you even suspect that your pet has been bitten by a rattlesnake, don’t hesitate to contact our animal hospital or your nearest animal emergency vet. Do NOT attempt to administer first aid—seek veterinary attention immediately! We’ll provide all the care your pet needs to recover, including IV fluids, pain relief, and more.
Rattlesnake bites can be fatal, especially if your pet is bit on the tongue or chest area. Keep this information in mind whenever you and your pet are outdoors!