Pet Tip Tuesday- Rattlesnake Bites

Rattlesnake bites


How serious are rattlesnake bites in dogs and cats?

-          Snake bites are ALWAYS an emergency

-          Patient and location of bite determine severity- CAN be deadly especially in cats

-          Venom varies with snake


What does the venom do?

-          Multiple components to venom- many are enzymes that break down tissue/blood/nerves

o       Hemolytic- interrupts the ability to clot

o       Neurotoxic- interferes with nerve signal transmission

o       Tissue lysis = cell death


What does this mean for an animal that has been bitten?

-          PAIN

-          Swelling

-          Hemorrhage

-          Weakness/shock

-          Tissue death à pain, infection


What needs to be done if my pet is bitten?

-          EMERGENCY!! Get to your veterinarian

-          Carry dog, keep heart rate down

-          Treatment:

o       IV catheter and fluids

o       Antivenin given IV to STOP venom activity

o       Antibiotics

o       Hospitalization


Is treatment successful?

-          YES- anti-venin is very effective. 

-          Dry bites or low venom need less treatment and less time in hospital.


I have heard about rattlesnake vaccines - can I prevent snakebites and their problems?

-          Awareness of surroundings and CAUTION

-          Training dogs not to harass snakes

-          Vaccine- NOT in place of treatment after snake bite, NOT protective for all components of venom or all types of snakes, MAY lessen severity