Summer’s the perfect time to get outside & hike with your dog, but the warmer weather also means it’s snake season, from about April through October. To keep your dog safe from potential snake bites, we’ve rounded up some important safety tips to keep in mind.
1. Stick to clearly marked trails
When it’s especially hot outside, snakes like to retreat to cool, shady areas, such as rocks or overgrown brush. When you go hiking with your dog, staying on clearly marked trails allow you to move safely out of the way should you run into a snake. It also reduces the chance of accidentally finding one by surprise!
2. Keep your dog leashed
One of the best ways to keep your dog safe from snake bites is to keep him/her leashed and by your side while hiking. This reduces the likelihood of your dog stumbling upon a snake while exploring, and gives you a clear vision of what your dog is doing. If you happen to see a snake sunbathing on a trail, you can simply walk around it.
3. Stay clear of overgrown areas
If you’re hiking off trail together, stay vigilant of your surroundings and check the ground often to make sure you and your pup are safe.
4. Keep a close eye on your dog
According to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, dogs have an increased risk of getting a snake bite because they stick their nose to the ground while exploring. If your dog likes to stop and sniff a lot while hiking, keep a close eye on what he/she’s getting into. If your dog seems interested in something hidden from view, keep a safe distance until you can see what it is.
If your dog gets bitten…
Thankfully, if your dog is treated in time, most snake bites aren’t fatal. Still, if your dog gets bitten, learn how to respond to keep you and your pup safe.
5. Move away from the snake as soon as possible
Don’t try to interact with the snake in any way. Slowly move away and give it lots of space. Remember, it’s more scared of you than you are of it. Snakes simply want to be left alone.
6. Get to a veterinary emergency center or hospital
Get to a veterinary emergency center as soon as you can. They can provide antivenom medication if necessary. If you saw the snake, take note of its size, color, markings, and whether it had a rattle, as it might help with treatment.