Thursday, April 29, 2010

How To Protect Your Dog From Rattlesnake Attack

With summer fast approaching many of you will hit the hiking trails or campgrounds with your dog. If you live in the Southwest or desert you have a higher chance of encountering rattlesnakes especially April through October which is rattlesnake season. Rattlesnakes and dogs do not mix. Being aware of you and your dogs surroundings is a matter of life or death. Rattlesnakes can climb trees, walls and love to sunbathe on rocks. They like to be alone and will often hide in warm places such as woodpiles, animal burrows, underneath rocks or cars. Here are ways to protect you and your dog from a rattlesnake attack, ultimately saving both of your lives.

1. Get the dog trained. Sign you and your dog up for a rattlesnake avoidance class in your area, highly prominent in southern Arizona where rattlesnakes are common.

2. Keep your dogs leashed. It is important to keep your dog within eyes view and on a leash if you are hiking the trails. Dogs are curious by nature so never let your dog venture off alone on the trail or into tall grassy areas where a rattlesnake lair may be lurking. If you don't want your dog having an up and close deadly encounter with a rattlesnake make sure to leash up as a precaution.

3. Stay on the path. If you are on hiking never take a detour or the road less traveled, always stay on the path and follow the trail signs. If a path is not present walk in an area with open space and shorter grass so you can easily see where you stepping and what's a head. If you and your dog unknowingly step on or near a rattlesnake it will feel threatened and strike. Staying on a clear path will give you a heads up before its to late.

4. Don't touch or dig away! Dogs are notorious diggers and this can be a fatal flaw, especially if you catch your dog digging in rattlesnake territory. It is important to think smart and think like a rattlesnake by viewing every hole, moving rocks, logs, piles of debris and other places as potential place for rattlesnakes to habit-ate. You can use a ling trusted walking poke at branches on the path, remember snakes can often camouflage as branches.

5. Know rattlesnake habits. Rattlesnake sightings are most abundant in August and September (breeding season) and often seek refuge from the heat in cooler areas under a shady tree or rock. During the summer they tend to wander out during dusk and dawn. Keep this in mind if you are taking your dog for a walk or hike. When the weather is much cooler (70s or 80s) they usually gravitate toward a rock or a sunny perch.

6. React with caution. If you do spot a rattlesnake it is vital that you react with caution. If you are with your dog and within rattlesnake striking distance, stop dead in your tracks and sternly command your dog to "stay" and stand still. Proceed to back up slowly. If you are not in striking distance, turn around flea the scene quickly with your pet.

7. Canvas your backyard for rattlesnakes. Examine your yard before before letting your dog venture out for playtime or potty break. If you spot a rattlesnake don't attempt to lure it out your yard yourself or catch it. For your own safety contact your nearest Animal Care and Control Center for snake removal.

IMPORTANT: Rattlesnake bites can be deadly and need medical attention immediately. In the unfortunate event that your pet is bitten by a rattlesnake, remain calm so as to keep your dog calm and still and take him to the vet immediately. If the attack happens after vet hours quickly drive your dog to your nearest emergency vet clinic to be treated. Depending on the extent of your dogs injury the vet may administer an antivenin. The sooner you get your dog to a vet the higher his or her chances of survival.

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