About 75 percent of all rattlesnake bites contain venom, while the other 25 percent are dry bites that contain no venom. If venom is injected into a rattlesnake bite, the signs and symptoms of toxicity are the same in all animal species. Symptoms can range from simple pain and swelling to severe paralysis and death. Dogs tend to be curious with their noses, thus running the risk of getting bitten on the face and front legs. Sometimes rattlesnake bites may be camouflaged by a dog's hair coat, making diagnosis difficult.
If your pet is bitten by a rattlesnake, remain calm and do not touch the wound. The most common symptoms include puncture wounds, swelling, bleeding and pain. Bites around the throat may cause dangerous swelling that blocks a dog's ability to breath. Severe reactions consist of difficulty breathing, purple skin and mouth coloration, uncontrolled bleeding and paralysis. Paralysis often begins in the back limbs and progresses to the front of a dog.
Avoid rattlesnake bites by not hiking in long grass, rocks or wood piles with your dog. Keep your dog on a leash and stay on trails. Do not let dogs approach snakes, as a rattlesnake can strike at a distance half the length of its body. A canine vaccine is available to reduce the severity of rattlesnake bite symptoms, but it does not provide total elimination of symptoms nor protection against certain rattlesnake species.
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