Rattlesnakes Are Still Rattling Around

Rattlesnake season is not over yet!

Helotes and San Antonio have been seeing days and days of steady rain and this is bringing out rattlesnakes.  When it rains, snakes seek higher ground and this increases our chances of encountering them.  This rain may be contributing to the high number of dogs being bitten by rattlesnakes recently.  Regardless of the reason we want to remind you that rattlesnake season is not over quite yet.

Be vigilant about inspecting your yard especially if you have seen or heard of snakes in your neighborhood.  We are frequently asked if snake repellent works and the answer is we don’t really know.  Many of our clients use it and have not seen snakes in their yard.  Would they have seen them otherwise?  Who knows, but it can’t hurt to try as long as you aren’t putting yourself or your dog at risk with the repellent.

What happens if my pet is bitten by a rattlesnake?

If your pet is bitten by a rattlesnake, you should seek emergency care immediately.  We carry antivenin as does Mission Pet Emergency, in the event that we are closed.  Pets experience pain and swelling with rattlesnake bites but the real danger is the anti-coagulant effect the venom has on your pet’s blood.  Rattlesnake bites cause your pet to have impaired blood clotting ability and this requires close monitoring.

We can’t know how much venom is injected with any given snake bite so we don’t always know how severe the effects are going to be.  This is why seeking veterinary care immediately is your best course of action.  Antivenin is usually indicated to treat a rattlesnake bite since it helps to decrease the severity of clinical signs as well as speed recovery.

What are the symptoms?

If you suspect that your dog may have been bitten by a rattlesnake, here a few things to look for.  You may hear your dog yelp as if in pain and you may see the puncture wounds.  If you do not see puncture wounds, don’t automatically assume that it was not a rattlesnake bite.  Immediately following the bite the tissue will start to swell and the area where the dog was bitten may bleed or ooze.  Your dog may drool, have rapid breathing, dilated pupils or pale gums.  Weakness or collapse are also possible symptoms.  The one symptom every snakebite victim will have is pain.

Many dogs are bitten in the face/on the head or on the leg.  This is because dogs are either investigating the snake or sometimes being aggressive towards it.  Either activity involving a snake will put your dog at risk.

This dog was bitten on the inside of the mouth. The right side was after antivenin and 2 days of hospitalization.

If only there was a vaccine to protect dogs against rattlesnakes!

We are in luck because there is a rattlesnake vaccine.  The goal of the vaccine is NOT to replace medical care following envenomation but rather to buy you some time to seek emergency care.  This vaccine also helps minimize symptoms of swelling and pain.  This vaccine is for dogs only and requires a booster in 4 weeks after the initial vaccine.  We recommend having your dog vaccinated in the spring when snakes are becoming active.  The vaccine lasts for about 6 months which usually covers the months that snakes are most active.  If your dog goes anywhere where exposure to rattlesnakes is high during the late fall/winter months, he should get a vaccine in the fall as well to protect him through that season.

Rattlesnakes are still active and while we hope that your pet will not encounter one, if he does call us immediately so we can help.  With rattlesnake bites time is of the essence so do not wait!  Call us at 210-695-4455.  If we are closed, you can call Mission Pet Emergency at 210-691-0900.

Does Your Pet Have Anxiety on July 4th?

What is Noise Aversion or Noise Anxiety?

Have you ever wondered if your pet suffers from anxiety that is related to noise like fireworks, thunderstorms or even just loud noises?  This is called noise aversion and it is a real problem for many pets.

4th of July puppy and kitten no anxiety

Since Fourth of July is fast approaching, this is a wonderful time to talk about noise aversion and the anxiety that our furry friends experience.  For many people Fourth of July means fun in the sun, cookouts and fireworks.  For the rest of us it means hunkering down with our dogs, inside, dreading nightfall and the noise of fireworks going off in our neighborhoods.  If you have a dog that has noise aversion or anxiety, you fit right into the second group of people.  Unfortunately, this can be a miserable time for your pet and you.  Many pets suffer with this type of anxiety during thunderstorms or when loud noises are present.

Lets talk about dogs first

Noise aversion can manifest itself in many forms.  A dog with this issue can experience slight anxiety or can be terrified, and may pace, bark, tremble or hide.  If your dog does any of these things we have some good news for you.  Your dog doesn’t have to suffer with noise aversion anymore.  We have a multitude of products and medication available that may help your canine friend relax so that you can actually enjoy July 4th.

We recommend our tried and true products like Composure Treats and prescription medications but we also have a new medication called Sileo.  If you have not heard of Sileo, it is a medicated gel that goes between the cheek and gum in your dog’s mouth and should help reduce noise related anxiety.  It is the first and only FDA-approved treatment for canine noise aversion caused by events such as fireworks, thunder, construction noise and traffic noise. It calms without sedating — so your dog can interact and enjoy time with your family.  Administration can be a little tricky so make sure that one of our staff members shows you exactly how to work the syringe.  In case you forget, we have attached the video below that walks you through it.  To learn more about Sileo visit the Sileo website.

Have a strategy to conquer noise aversion

When you have an anxious pet it is important to be prepared.  If you have never tried any of these products but feel your dog could benefit from one or more of them, please contact us now so that we can consult with your veterinarian to make a plan for your dog.  It is also important to learn how to use the products at home.  Many people don’t realize that any medication or calming treat designed to help reduce anxiety MUST be given at least 1-2 hours prior to the anxiety causing event or it may not work as well as intended (or at all.)  One medication may not work for every dog so we can custom tailor a prescription regimen just for your dog.

Let’s not forget our feline friends

Cats are typically pretty calm animals but there is also help for cats that suffer from noise related anxiety.  If your cat experiences anxiety that impacts his life from noises like fireworks or thunderstorms we have treats and medication that we can prescribe that should help Kitty too.

Don’t let your pets suffer with anxiety and noise phobia when help is available.  Call us so that we can help! 210-695-4455.

Remember these other important tips for all pets on Fourth of July.

  • Don’t let pets get overheated.
  • Don’t leave your pets outside unattended in order to protect them from becoming a victim of a prank.
  • Keep your pets well contained.  Often times when pets become frightened, they try to escape and hide.  Noises like fireworks create this exact situation, so take extra precautions with your pet’s surroundings.

Have a fun and safe holiday from your friends at Hill Country Animal Hospital!


Canine Influenza Comes to Texas

Is all the hype about Canine influenza virus just that, hype?  Unfortunately it is not.  Canine influenza virus or CIV, is the real deal and it is here in Texas.  We are hoping that we aren’t facing the same kind of outbreak that the Midwest faced in 2015 but so far, we do have 5 confirmed cases in various counties.  There have been two confirmed cases in Houston (Harris County), and we were just made aware of 3 more cases in the following counties:  Fort Bend, Hood and Travis.  As you know, Travis County is close to home so we really want to make sure that we get the word out to our clients.  

Hill Country Animal Hospital has the combined vaccine that protects dogs from both strains of CIV with one injection.  If your dog has never been vaccinated for either strain, your dog will require an initial vaccine and a booster 3-4 weeks later.  If your dog has been fully vaccinated for either strain of CIV to include an initial vaccine and the booster, your dog will only need a booster of this new, combination vaccine.  If you aren’t sure about your dog’s risk factors or vaccine status, call us at 210-695-4455.  

Please read this fact sheet from Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory for an all encompassing overview of Canine influenza virus.  

What is canine influenza?
Canine influenza virus (CIV), or dog flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs that is caused by an influenza A virus. In the U.S., canine influenza has been caused by two influenza strains. The first strain reported in the United States, beginning in 2004, was an H3N8 influenza A virus. This strain is closely related to the virus that causes equine influenza, and it is thought that the equine influenza virus mutated to produce the canine strain.
In 2015, an outbreak that started in Chicago was caused by a separate strain, H3N2. This strain was almost genetically identical to an H3N2 strain previously reported only in Asia – specifically, Korea, China and Thailand. This H3N2 strain is believed to have resulted from the direct transfer of an avian influenza virus – possibly from among viruses circulating in live bird markets – to dogs.
Two clinical syndromes have been seen in dogs infected with the canine influenza virus—a mild form of the
disease and a more severe form that is accompanied by pneumonia.
Mild form — Dogs suffering with the mild form of canine influenza develop a soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days. They may also be lethargic and have reduced appetite and a fever. Sneezing and discharge from the eyes and/or nose may also be observed. Some dogs have a dry cough similar to the traditional “kennel cough” caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica/parainfluenza virus complex. Dogs with the mild form of influenza may also have a thick nasal discharge, which is usually caused by a secondary bacterial infection.
Severe form — Dogs with the severe form of canine influenza develop high fevers (104ºF to 106ºF) and have clinical signs of pneumonia, such as increased respiratory rates and effort. Pneumonia may be due to a secondary bacterial infection.
Are all dogs at risk of getting canine influenza?
Because this is still an emerging disease and dogs in the U.S. have not been exposed to it before, almost all dogs, regardless of breed or age, lack immunity to it and are susceptible to infection if exposed to the active virus. Virtually all dogs exposed to the virus become infected, and nearly 80% show clinical signs of disease, though most exhibit the mild form described above.
However, the risk of any dog being exposed to the canine influenza virus depends on that dog’s lifestyle.  Dogs that are frequently or regularly exposed to other dogs – for example at boarding or day care facilities, dog parks, grooming salons, or social events with other dogs present – are at greater risk of coming into contact with the virus. Also, as with other infectious diseases, extra precautions may be needed with puppies, elderly or pregnant dogs, and dogs that are immunocompromised. Dog owners should talk with their veterinarian to assess their dog’s risk.

Is there a vaccine available for canine influenza?
Vaccines are available for both the H3N8 and H3N2 strains. For questions concerning vaccination options, contact your veterinarian.
Do dogs die from canine influenza?
Fatal cases of pneumonia resulting from infection with canine influenza virus have been reported in dogs, but the fatality rate is low (less than 10%). Most dogs recover in 2-3 weeks.


Testing is necessary to determine whether your dog has CIV.  We cannot tell solely by clinical signs.  Your veterinarian can provide you with recommendations if your dog presents with symptoms.  The main thing you need to remember is that timing is very important.  It is critical to take samples within 1-2 days of the onset of clinical signs which include runny nose, low grade fevers, and coughing.  Dogs with clinical signs for more than 7 days require different testing options.