In California rattlesnakes live in our wetlands, deserts and forests, and can be found from sea level to the mountains. So chances are, at one point, you are going to interact with one.
Although rattlesnakes are most active in warmer seasons, April - September, here in Southern California they are occasionally found year-round.
Most of us know to keep our huskies on leashes when we are out hiking and camping (a loose husky tends to be a lost husky!) but even at the end of a leash our dogs get into nooks and crannies and risk being bitten by a snake.
FACT: Dogs are 20 times more likely to be bitten by venomous snakes than people and are about 25 times more likely to die from the bite.
What to do if your husky is bitten by a snake:
- Assume it is a venomous bite.
- Get to a vet IMMEDIATELY
- If the swelling is in the face, avoid touching this area all together.
- Immobilize the part of your pet that has been bitten, if this can be done safely. Try to keep the area at or below the level of the heart.
- Keep your husky calm and immobile, carry them if necessary.
(Snake bites are extremely painful, the swelling that can occur is shocking and happens quickly. Due to pain and fear be aware that your husky may accidentally try to snap at you)
What NOT to do
- Don't try to suck out the venom.
- Don't “make an X” and cut open the area around the bite (you will only cause a wound).
- Do not use a Snake Bite Kit or Extractor Pump (they can actually do more harm)
- Do not apply ice or cold packs to the area, doing so constricts blood vessels locally and concentrates the venom causing severe muscle damage to the area.
- Do not rub anything into the bite, the venom is in the blood stream, so anything topical is useless.
- Do not apply a tourniquet as this may cause further tissue damage, it could also cause the need for limb amputation.
- Do not allow your husky to move about freely.
Tips for prevention
- Stay on open paths while hiking with your husky.
- Stay away from high grass and rocks where snakes like to rest.
- Don’t let your pet explore holes or dig under rocks.
- If using a 'tie-out' check that the whole free-range area is not snake habitat.
- Remember that a snake can strike only a distance of half its body length; give the snake time to “just go away”, they don't want to interact with you or your dog if they can help it.
- Don’t let your husky mess with a dead snake as they still can release venom.
What about the vaccine?
There is a “snake-bite vaccine” but there have been no controlled studies for its effectiveness. One of the biggest myths is that if your pet has been vaccinated, then they don’t need to be treated for bites; this is not true. They must receive the same treatment despite being given a vaccine or not!
(this information is not intended to be used as an alternative to medical advice. we are not vets.)