Avoiding Trouble on the Trail
Spring is here in Southern California, and with it brings green outdoor activities that we love to share with our furry friends. Gaston, my adorable French Bulldog, especially loves nature walks and occasionally more rigorous hikes. But if you’re like me, the thought of encountering a snake and dealing with potential snakebites nearly prevents me from taking my dogs out on the trail. Mission Veterinary Clinic sees approximately a dozen cases of snakebite incidents each year, making it a rare but not non-existent problem. To counteract my anxiety, I researched some safety tips to help all of our pets have a fun, safe time on The Valley’s trails.
Snakebite Safety Tips
Don’t hike at night - snakes are more active (and harder to see)
Stay on the Trail - stepping on a snake is easier in the tall grass
Use a leash - you should anyway (that’s another blog) but keeping your dog within your control and sight could prevent a bite.
Don’t allow your dog to investigate holes or bushes - this is the most common place snakes will hide
Teach your dog basic commands such as “leave it” or “come”
Keep your distance - a snake’s striking distance is about half its body length, which means a six foot long snake could strike you from three feet away!
Ask about a snake vaccine. They have been shown to be effective in reducing the effects of hemotoxin and can safely be administered in dogs after four months of age. Remember that a yearly booster is necessary.
Even though snakes are scary, you can still have fun this spring with your pets. If you DO hear or see a snake; keep calm! They aren’t naturally aggressive. Slowly put space between you and the snake (see how the leash comes in handy?)
That about wraps up this edition of Gaston’s Corner. Next time we will cover the other side of this topic; Snakebite Treatment.
Dana and Gaston