Living in such a dry climate, we have an abundance of flora and fauna that are native to the desert. One of the encounters that can happen with our pets could be with rattlesnakes. Dogs and cats are curious creatures and can quickly find themselves in trouble if they go sniffing after a rattlesnake. Though their rattle is supposed to deter predators, dogs tend to try and puzzle out what they are hearing instead of running away and avoiding the noise.

There are many ways to help your pet avoid major trouble with rattlesnakes. A good first step would be to get them a rattlesnake vaccine from a local veterinarian. Be aware, though, that this vaccine only helps delay the effects of a rattlesnake bite. Your pet will still need vet care immediately if bitten by a rattlesnake. A good thing to keep in mind is to keep yourself and your dog on trails when hiking. This way, if a snake is sunning itself across the trail you can spot it in time to avoid it. Keeping your dog on a six-foot leash helps keep your dog out of rattlesnake hiding places and near you if the need for help arises. Letting your dog off-leash or on a retractable leash gives you less control. If you encounter a rattlesnake, back slowly away until you are out of striking distance (generally the length of the snake) and their rattling stops. If there is one snake, there are likely others – so calmly and carefully leave the area to avoid further encounters.

Be aware of the following symptoms: puncture wounds with possible bleeding, seem to be in severe pain, swelling, restlessness, muscle tremors, seizures and lethargy. If your dog has been bitten, carry your dog, if you can, and try to limit its movement as much as possible, and get them to a vet IMMEDIATELY.

There are rattlesnake aversion therapies you can train your dog with, which usually includes use of a shock collar to create a bad sensation when associating with a snake. Many of these also include live rattlesnakes that have either been muzzled or defanged/devenomed so that dogs associate real sounds and smells with the need for aversion.