Dogs and Snakes

Deb D’Andrea, Nederland.  I’ve been reading about an increase of snake activity recently, with several people and a couple dogs getting bitten. One person had ear buds in while running and couldn’t hear the warning signal before getting bit; becoming fully incapacitated on the trail within 25-35 minutes, and was luckily found in time for 911 to come to his rescue. So now may be a good time to lose the ear buds while hiking and trail running, and good to keep your dog on leash close by, on wide trails where you can clearly see if a snake is in your path.


Nature does have a way of providing us with warning signals if we’re aware and listening; though not always. Snakes have bitten with no warning sound. Across the United States, snake bites happen when most least expects it. So it’s a good idea to always be prepared and have all your emergency information on your person in case you become incapacitated. About 7,000 people get bitten a year, with an estimated 5 dying. For dogs, there is a 20 percent fatality rate. Colorado has a few venomous snakes, the Desert Massasauga, the Midget Faded Rattlesnake, the Prairie Rattlesnake and the Western Massasauga. Take a moment to research what these guys look like so you’ll know if you run across them in your travels.


A bite from a venomous snake can be extremely painful, and snake venom is not to be taken lightly as it has some instant and potentially long term effects. It causes numbness, diminished function, severe pain, cell death, and in some cases neurotoxicity and nerve transmission interference resulting in paralysis. If your dog gets bitten, quickly try to identify the snake before it scurries off; determine where and how many times your dog was bitten; wrap a constricting band snugly, but not excessively tight, just above the bite wound to help slow the spread of the venom; and get to the animal hospital as quickly as possible while keeping your dog calm. Do not cut Xs over the fang marks or try to suck the venom out.


While there is antivenin serum, it can be very expensive, with severe cases requiring several vials.


Each antivenin is created for specific snakes, so if your pet is bitten, try to get a look or picture of the snake. It’s a good idea to call your Vet ahead of time and ask if they keep antivenin in stock. If they don’t, ask if they know who does and keep that number handy just in case.


As rattlers are mostly nocturnal, it’s wise to minimize nighttime walks and discourage your dog from exploring off path, potentially stirring up a snake. While I usually encourage curiosity in my dogs, I’ll be keeping them a bit closer given the up tick in snake sightings.


Till next time. Deb D’Andrea, founder of 4TheLuvOfDogz & the Caribou Dog Ranch is recognized by the State of Colorado as a Certified Canine Massage Therapist and visits your home or Vet to work with your dog. Canine Agility may be offered at the Caribou Dog Ranch in 2017 if there is interest. Deb currently has limited availability for new Petz Nanny Clients; and she bakes up fresh dog treats & doggy birthday cakes per order. For information contact Deb at 720-675-7078 or email:

Deb D'Andrea

Deb D’Andrea a columnist for The Mountain-Ear. She is the founder of 4TheLuvOfDogz which provides mobile Canine Massage, Canine Agility and Petz Nanny Services. Her home-made dog treats are sold at local stores, and 4TheLuvOfDogz K9Birthday Cakes are available direct. Deb Petz Nanny’s for dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses, etc. Contact Deb at 720-675-7078 or email. Online: 4TheLuvOfDogz