Snake Bite Awareness

Signs to look for and what do if you encounter a snake with your pet

As the temperatures rise in Colorado, so does the activity of snakes. For pet owners, particularly those with dogs and cats, this time of the year can pose potential risks to their furry friends. Colorado is home to several species of snakes, some of which can be venomous. Before you explore the variety of wonderful outdoor activities here in Colorado, let’s take a minute to explore some essential tips to ensure the safety of your pets during snake season.

First and foremost, keep an eye out for these symptoms of snake bites in your pet:

  • Bite wound
  • Swelling or pain around the wound area
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Collapsing/weakness
  • Difficulty breathing

Here are some tips to keep you and your four-legged friends as safe as possible during snake season:

  • Keep Your Yard Tidy:
    Snakes are attracted to places where they can find food and shelter. By maintaining a well-kept yard, you reduce the likelihood of snakes making a home on your property. Clear away tall grass, debris, and woodpiles, as these can be inviting hiding spots.
  • Supervise Outdoor Time:
    When allowing your pets outside, especially in areas prone to snake activity, keep a close eye on them. Dogs, in particular, may be curious and may not recognize the danger a snake presents. Keeping them on a leash or within a fenced area can help prevent unexpected encounters.
  • Stay on Designated Trails:
    Stick to well-marked trails and avoid venturing into tall grass, rocky areas, or underbrush where snakes may hide. Stay alert while hiking and keep an eye on the trail ahead. Look for signs of snake activity, such as sunning themselves on rocks or crossing the trail.
  • Training and Recall Commands:
    Training your pets to respond to recall commands can be a lifesaver. If you notice a snake nearby, being able to call your dog or cat back to safety can prevent a potential confrontation. Regular obedience training helps reinforce these crucial commands.
  • Snake Avoidance Training:
    Consider enrolling your dog in snake avoidance training programs. These programs use controlled environments and harmless snake-scented objects to teach dogs to recognize and avoid the scent of snakes. This can be a valuable skill in preventing unnecessary confrontations.
  • Know the snakes of Colorado:
    Snakes are more active during certain times of the day, such as early morning and late afternoon. Try to schedule outdoor activities with your pets during periods when snake activity is lower.
    TIP: The warmer it is, the more likely you are to encounter a snake.

    Learn about the common snake species found in Colorado. The most common venomous snake is the Prairie Rattlesnake, but there are also harmless species like the Garter Snake and Bullsnake.

  • Know Basic First Aid:
    Familiarize yourself with basic first aid for snake bites. In case of a snake bite, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

    Some of the signs of a snake bite are:

    1. Swelling around the bite area accompanied by two small puncture wounds.
    2. Extreme pain around the bite wound.
    3. In severe cases, there can be vomiting/diarrhea, collapse, weakness, and difficulty breathing.
  • Carry a First Aid Kit:
    Bring a pet-friendly first aid kit that includes items like antiseptic wipes and bandages. A first aid kit is not a replacement for a veterinarian so seek veterinary assistance for any injuries.

If Your Pet Gets Bit:

  1. Stay calm!
  2. Do not try and apprehend the snake.
  3. If you can, carry your pet down the trail.
  4. Keep your pet calm and reduce activity. 
  5. Do not add ice or heat.
  6. Do not use a tourniquet. Do not base urgency on the size of a snake, though some snakes may issue “dry bites” that don’t contain venom, all snake bites, no matter the size of a snake, should be treated IMMEDIATELY.
  • Regular Veterinary Check-ups:
    Keep up with your pet’s regular veterinary check-ups. If you suspect a snakebite or notice any unusual behavior, seek immediate medical attention. Timely intervention can make a significant difference in the outcome.

As snake season arrives in Colorado, proactive measures are essential to safeguard your beloved pets. By staying informed, maintaining a snake-friendly environment, and investing in proper training, you can help ensure a safer and more enjoyable outdoor experience for both you and your furry companions.

Know where your nearest emergency veterinary hospital is before you go on any hikes or do any outdoor activities. Evolution Veterinary Specialists is one of the closest emergency veterinary hospitals to the foothills and provides quick access to many life-saving measures for your pets.