Rattlesnake season is in full swing, and it may just seem like a way of life living in Southern California. Its commonplace to see them on trails and invading your yards if you back up to hillsides or wildlife area.
What do you need to know about rattlesnakes and how can you secure your property and keep your dog safe in rattlesnake areas?
First off, prevention in key. Its better to minimize potential interactions with venomous snakes than to deal with a potential bite. With our ranch being surrounded by the Cleveland National Forest, we personally take several precautions to ensure our guest are as safe as possible. Many of the same things we do here can be employed at your own home if rattlesnakes are a concern in your neighborhood.
CLEAR OVERGROWN VEGETATION FROM PERIMETER OF PROPERTY
Snakes are easily concealed in tall, overgrown weeds and vegetation. By eliminating all overgrowth around the perimeter, we eliminate areas they can potentially hide. We try and clear vegetation 3-4 feet from all perimeter fencing and around all walking paths where possible.
INSTALL SNAKE PROOF FENCING
Whether you have a professional do the installation or treat it as a Do-It-Yourself project, you can make it more difficult for snakes to enter your property by installing snake proof fencing 1.5 feet buried down and 3 feet up the fence. Galvanized Hardware Mesh is fairly easy to install with wire or cable ties. Its important dig it down below the ground and have it overlap at gates. Remember to only use 1/4 inch Mesh!!
UTILIZE SNAKE REPELLANT
Snake Repellant comes in several forms. There are Solar Powered Snake Repellants, granulated version like Ortho Snake B Gon, or chemical sprays like Snake Defense. Always follow directions for any repellant being used around pets/children. There are also organic options like using Cinnamon, Clove, or Cedarwood Essential Oils, or mix Garlic/Oil/Water in a spray bottle to use on the perimeter of your property.
The Rattlesnake Vaccine is a controversial preventative to consider for your dog. Since we are not Veterinarians, I would refer you to an article of the Pros/Cons of this vaccination called The Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs: Both Sides of the Story written by Dr. Laci Schaible. From there it is completely a personal decision for each pet owner if the Rattlesnake Vaccine makes sense for their particular dog.
RATTLESNAKE AVOIDENCE TRAINING
I attended my first Rattle Snake Avoidance Training over 20 years ago and it certainly wasn’t a new thing even then. I remember taking a young female Brittany through the training and as we were loading all the dogs and snakes back up in their SUV, their older female Vizsla hopped out of the car and made a huge circle to avoid the buckets that the rattlesnakes were in. I asked them how long ago their dog had done the avoidance training and they said over 4 years prior. Rattlesnake Avoidance training, when done properly, can certainly make a lasting impression on a dog. The idea is to pair a negative stimulus with the snake so if the dog ever encounters a snake on a trail it will run the other way. This is typically done using a remote collar on high level. There are some trainers who are advertising a “purely positive‘ version of this Rattlesnake Avoidance Training or trainers who are claiming to offer rattlesnake avoidance training but do not use live snakes for the training. Neither are anything I would ever bet my dogs life on. I am a huge believer in rattlesnake avoidance training done with a live snake and remote training collar in the hands of an experienced trainer.
HAVE BENEDRYL ON HAND FOR EMERGENCIES
A fairly viral article went around recently touting the benefits of liquid benedryl for dogs who have had a rattlesnakeencounter. Obviously immediate veterinary care must still be sought but it never hurts to have Liquid Benadryl (or a generic equivalent) on hand for if you are out hiking or have some at home. We keep this at the ranch at all times as its also good for potential bee/insect stings and other allergic reactions. (**Dosing for Benedryl for dogs is 1mg/lb.**)
BASIC SNAKE BITE FIRST AID
If your dog or yourself has potentially been bitten by a rattlesnake, remember the key is to reduce activity and immobilize the affected area. We keep a Ven-Ex Snake Bite Kit on hand for venom extraction although their effectiveness is highly questionable and it should never be used as a replacement for emergency medical care.
KNOW YOUR EMERGENCY VETERINARIAN
Not all vets carry anti-venom. I repeat – NOT ALL VETS WILL CARRY ANTI-VENOM.
If your dog has been bitten by a rattlesnake, you need to get to a 24 hour emergency speciality Veterinary Hospital. Do not waste time going to your local veterinarian or the nearest animal hospital unless you have called ahead and confirmed they have the ability to treat your pet. Having had numerous emergencies with my own pets over the years, its critical that you have the 24 hour emergency vet already programed in your phone. Have their phone number and address plugged in so its easy to get there fast and know what direction you need to head. Precious minutes can be lost trying to ‘google’ for a 24 hour vet last minute. In my phone I have several saved already under “Emergency Vet” in proximity not only to my house but also to parks/trails I frequent.
We hope these tips will help you at least think about ways you can prevent or prepare for potential rattlesnake issues. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to reach out to us at (949) 525-7362 or visit ocdogranch.com