A rattlesnake with a threatening pose.

Most Texans are pretty used to being around snakes. While many of our native species here in the south are harmless, there are a few that we need to be on the lookout, for.

Texan rattlesnakes are nothing to mess with, especially when it comes to our pets. BeeVet Animal Hospital wants our clients to be sure to know all about the risks of rattlesnakes and what they need to do should their animal encounter one. Rattlesnakes and pets are not a good mix, and being prepared is half the battle.

Rattlesnake Risks

When a rattlesnake bites, it can have deadly consequences. If the snake injects its venom into the tissues of its victim during a strike, a chemical reaction can begin to occur. The venom causes disruption of the blood vessels in the area leading to severe swelling, blood loss, and shock.

Because snake bites are not always witnessed when pets are involved, be aware of signs that a rattlesnake encounter may have occurred. Pets are often bitten on the nose or paws. Signs that a bite may have occurred include:

  • Local swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Pain in the affected area
  • Signs of shock (weakness, pale gums)

If you think your pet may have been bitten, do not delay in bringing your pet in. When rattlesnakes and pets mix, it is an emergency. The more quickly your pet receives medical attention, the better his or her chances of a good outcome.  

Rattlesnakes and Pets: Vaccination

One way to protect your pet against the serious effects of a rattlesnake attack is to vaccinate him or her. Pets who are likely to encounter snakes, especially those who engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, or hunting, should be vaccinated against rattlesnake venom.

When we administer a rattlesnake vaccine, it stimulates your pet’s immune system and creates antibodies against the proteins in the snake’s venom. This helps the pet’s body to fight off the effects of a bite and help improve the prognosis in the case of an encounter.

Pets who have been vaccinated still need medical attention in the case of a snake bite, as vaccination does not provide full protection and is not effective for venoms of other snakes. Anything that can be done to better your pet’s chances, however, is worthwhile. Preventative care is often the key to a healthier animal.

Pets older than four month of age can receive the rattlesnake vaccine. Initially, they will require a booster vaccine. Thereafter, the vaccine is administered every six months.

We hope that you never have to deal with a rattlesnake bite, but snakes are part of life in Texas. It is our job to be sure that your pet is protected just in case.