Hello all! Pet Doctor has added this blog to reach out to and educate our clients. Our Veterinarians want to make sure you have all the knowledge available to take the best care of your pets. Every few weeks we will update the blog on our website and social media. We hope you enjoy and learn from some of the information we are making available to you, our valued clients. Our first post is on Rattlesnake season and how to best protect your animal from dangerous snake bites.

It is that time of year here in Tucson, and as you know March thru September is rattlesnake season. The most commonly encountered rattlesnake in our area is the Western Diamondback (Crotalus Atrox). Fortunately, we have made it through the earliest months of rattlesnake season which is when the snake has been observed as most active and after a long winter of inactivity they have a tendency to exert more venom per bite. Even in the hottest months you should be weary of walking your pet during early morning hours and dusk as this is when the snake is beginning and ending its night of hunting. The Western Diamondback has a broad range of habitat that extends all the way north almost to the Canadian border, south in to the southernmost part of Mexico, east to Arkansas and Missouri, and west to the pacific coastal areas. Here in Tucson you and your pet can encounter a snake whether you are hiking trails on Mt. Lemon, taking a walk at Sabino Canyon, or even in parts of the city itself. Washes and undeveloped land are prime habitat for the rattlesnake. We recommend if you are going to take your pets on a walk keep them leashed or trained with tight verbal commands. The most common area we see on snake bitten dogs is the snout. Their curious little noses sometimes get them into to trouble!

If your pet is bitten note that this is an emergency situation and you should take your pet to your regular veterinarian or an emergency center immediately. It does not take long for the venom to begin working its lethal effects in the animal’s body and time is of the essence. Essentially what is happening once a snake bites your pet is the venom breaks down blood vessels and inhibits the ability of your animal’s immune system to clot its blood. This is why uncontrolled bleeding, swelling, and pain are the most common symptoms of a rattlesnake bite. An animal that is bitten and has not been immunized against the rattlesnake bite can see long lasting and chronic problems.

One of the best ways to give your pet a fighting chance against the fatal effects of a rattlesnake bite is the relatively new rattlesnake vaccine, which became a common method of reducing risk in the early 2000’s. This vaccine provides protection against the Western Diamondback and many other pit vipers. The vaccine works by introducing a small, inert sample of venom to the animal’s immune system thereby creating antibodies that help the animal fight the venom when a bite does occur.

Our Vets recommend that if your pet is a high energy and a curious walking companion then come in and get the vaccine. You can schedule it with the rest of your vaccines and have them all done at once! This is a cost effective method at protecting your pet as emergency visits for rattlesnake bites can run in the $1000’s of dollars to treat. Give us a call if you have any questions about the vaccine.