How to Prevent Rattlesnake Bites with your Dogs
Note! We are hosting a Rattlesnake Aversion Training class June 12th 2017 more information below.
Where do rattlesnakes live?
Rattlesnakes live in a variety of habitats, ranging from wetlands, deserts and forests, and from sea level to mountain elevations. Rattlesnakes are most active in warmer seasons, from Spring to Autumn. Dogs are at risk for rattlesnake bites; in fact dogs are about 20 times more likely to be bitten by venomous snakes than people and are about 25 times more likely to die if bitten. Snake bites are life threatening, extremely painful, expensive to treat, and can cause permanent damage even when the dogs survive.
What are the effects of a rattlesnake bite?
Whether hiking, camping or just hanging around your home, your dog may encounter a snake. Their curiosity or even protective instinct will put your dog at risk to being bit. They can even encounter the snake by accident and receive a bite. The rattlesnake bite is generally “hemotoxic” which means that it exerts its toxin by disrupting the integrity of the blood vessels. The swelling is often dramatic with up to 1/3 of the total blood circulation being lost into the tissues in a matter of hours. The toxin further disrupts normal blood clotting mechanisms leading to uncontrolled bleeding. This kind of blood loss induces shock and finally death. Facial bites are often more lethal as the swelling may occlude the throat or impair ability to breathe.
Did you know there is a vaccine that may lessen the severity of the venom?
Preventing your dog from getting bit is one of the key components to protecting your dog. The other is the rattlesnake vaccine. The canine rattlesnake vaccine comprises venom components from Crotalus atrox (western diamondback). This vaccine is meant for use in healthy dogs to help decrease the severity of rattlesnake bites. The vaccine is produced from inactivated Crotalus atrox venom with an adjuvant and preservatives added. Dogs develop neutralizing antibody titers to C. atrox venom; the vaccine is specifically for the toxin of the Western Diamondback rattlesnake and provides the best protection against the venom of that particular rattlesnake, however the vaccine has been shown to provide cross protection against the venom of other types of rattlesnakes and copperheads since the venom of pit vipers share some of the same toxic components. In fact, most of the 15 species of rattlesnakes in the United States have fairly similar venom. This is how one antivenin is able to cross-protect against so many rattlesnake species. The protection afforded by the vaccine depends on the similarity of snake venom to the Western Diamondback. The vaccine however does not provide protection against the Mojave rattlesnake, Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake, cottonmouths or coral snakes.
Here is how the rattlesnake vaccine works…
Please note the rattlesnake vaccine is a preventative measure to reduce the effects of rattlesnake venom prior to a bite where as Anti-venom is a shot taken after a bite has occurred to reverse the effects of the venom. The vaccine is not a cure and only works to reduce the severity of the venom and increase the time available to receive a shot of anti-venom. The vaccine works by stimulating the dog’s immune system to produce antibodies against rattlesnake toxin. Almost no vaccine is effective 100% of the time. There are undoubtedly some dogs whose immune systems just won’t produce as many antibodies necessary for maximum protection but the partial protection they receive may still be enough to save their lives or help them recover more quickly. Therefore, this vaccine should not be used solely as a means of protection against rattlesnake bites. It is meant to provide some protection and to reduce the severity of the snakebite. Therefore, if your pet gets bit by a rattlesnake, it is still an EMERGENCY SITUATION, and you must get your pet to the closest veterinarian for immediate treatment. Call us for more information about the rattlesnake vaccine.
The best protection is prevention!
Upcoming Snake Aversion Training Class this June here in Loveland
The first component of protecting your pets is to train them to avoid snakes which will help save them and many times even you! You may not be aware of a snakes presence, however if your dog is trained to avoid them, they will alert you of its presence and protect you both. How can you train your dog to avoid snakes and protect you both? This is not an easy task which is why we have requested an expert in rattlesnake aversion training to run a class locally.
Rattlesnake Aversion Class Monday June 12th, 2017 held at Aspenwing pet hospital Loveland, CO
The Training Process
A set of training stations are set up to expose the dogs to the various aspects of the snakes. Each dog is taken through the course one at a time to give them the individual attention they need to successfully complete the training. Electronic collars are used in the training because it is long proven to be the most effective, and possibly only effective tool for this particular training. The collar is adjusted to suit each individual dogs needs. Many people have concerns over the use of the e-collars, however in the hands of a trained professional, they are extremely safe and efficient. The trainers will ask details about your individual dog so that they can accommodate to their specific characters.
Safety and Precautions
Safety is of paramount concern; all of the rattlesnakes used out in the open have had their venom ducts surgically removed by a licensed veterinarian so they cannot inject any venom with their bite and are now known as venomoid snakes. This minimally invasive procedure does no long term harm to the snakes; in fact, some of the trainer’s retired venomoid snakes are over 15 years old!
What sets this training seminar apart?
Other training classes use muzzled rattlesnakes which in our trainer’s experience has proven stressful to the snakes and the muzzled snakes learn that they cannot bite, thus instead of coiling into a defensive posture and rattling the snakes start to act defeated and more timid.
Teaching your dog to avoid dangerous encounters is first and foremost, but we equally respect the care and well being of the snakes being used in this program. Not only will the trainers teach your dogs, but they also like to take the opportunities to teach the owners about the benefits of rattlesnakes and encourage them to leave them be if encountered in the wild.
How do I sign up for the class? How much does it cost?
The Snake Aversion Class is a very safe and effective way to teach your dog to avoid the sight, sound and smell of the rattlesnakes. Our expert trainer has been training dogs to avoid snakes for over 15 years.
Because significant resources need to be scheduled ahead of time there are big savings in signing up early.
Discounted tickets are available ahead of time for up to $35 in savings!
- Between 3/1/2017 – 4/30/2017 tickets are 90$
- Between 5/1/2017 – 5/31/2017 tickets are 100$
- Between 6/1/2017 – 6/11/2017 tickets are 110$
- On the day of the event 6/12/2017 tickets will be full price at $125 and subject to walk in availability.
For the session you will need to be present for about an hour, we have time slots available starting from 8AM and the last session staring at 7PM. For tickets and more information on Aspenwing’s Snake Aversion Class please visit the event page.