Protect your pets from venomous bites

Protect your pets from venomous bites

CREATED Apr 9, 2012

Reporter: Stephani Ruiz

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's the second week of snake season and rattlesnakes are out and biting.

Those bites could be deadly for dogs- and if they have been bitten, the signs are hard to miss.

"There are lots and lots of rattlesnake bites in this town, more than most people would ever guess and its usually dogs that get bit," Dr. Jennifer Wilcox, veterinarian with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, said.

Wilcox says most dogs get bit in the face and it swells. The venom jolts a dog's system and is potentially deadly for the little ones.

The best outcomes are the dogs who get treatment right away.

"It's a life threatening bite and you never know what the true dose of the venom is and every animal reacts differently so it's critical to have a vet evaluate the dog right away," Wilcox said.

Dogs need fluid support and pain medication, Wilcox said. The anti-venom can be a tough decision for pet owners- one dose can cost over $1,000.

To prevent these cases in the first places, Steven Buhrke, with Buhrke's Pet Resort, trains dogs to avoid rattlesnakes.

The classes teach dogs to sense a snake before the snake finds them.

"Obviously people aren't going to smell a snake but the dogs can definitely smell them and that's one of the main things we want to train them to do, is to smell the snake so that they can sense it before they ever see it," Buhrke said.

Electric shock training teaches dogs to be afraid of the snakes.

"When they go up to the snake, they're looking at the snake checking it out, when I give them a buzz I know that they're looking directly at the snake so they think it's coming from a snake," Buhrke said.

Aside from the avoidance training, vets recommend keeping your dogs on a leash this time of year. Don't let them explore bushes if you can't see what's inside.