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.

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.