Snakes, The Great Outdoors

Deb D’Andrea, Nederland.  Before beginning this article, I wanted to mention I noted in last week’s article the first sentence was very wrong and didn’t make any sense. I went back, checked my submitted article, and wanted to let you know that the first sentence printed was not what I wrote. It looked like a copy/paste error occurred when placing my article in the layout. I try to be incredibly diligent in my writing, grammar, and even read aloud my articles to help ensure they flow properly. I’m not sure what happened; but rest assured, I haven’t lost my marbles…well, some friends may dispute that! LOL!


Many of you probably heard the news that a hiker in the Mount Galbraith Park in Golden was bitten by a rattlesnake and died October 7, 2017. Daniel Hohs was 31 years old and was bitten about one mile into the hike. First responders arrived; he was taken to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood and later passed away. Prior to this unfortunate event, I had read about an increase of snake activity, with several other people and a couple dogs being bitten throughout the summer.


One person had ear buds in while running and couldn’t hear the warning signal before being bitten; becoming fully incapacitated on the trail within 25-35 minutes. He was luckily found in time for 911 to come to his rescue. Many people hike, run or ride with ear buds in, reducing any opportunity to hear an impending rattle, increasing the potential for wildlife run-in’s.


While it’s enjoyable for some to listen to their favorites while in the great outdoors, this enjoyment may best be left in the car when hiking.


When hiking with your dog, keeping them on leash, close by and hiking on wide trails where you can clearly see if a snake is in your path is a good precaution to not setting yourself or your dog up for being bitten. 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 people least expect 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 are bitten every 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. Please 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.


Snake bites cause numbness, diminished function, severe pain, cell death, and in some cases neurotoxicity and nerve transmission interference resulting in paralysis. If your dog is 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. The same holds true if you are bitten, but call 911 immediately. Staying calm throughout is essential for both you and your dog.


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. Although, with colder days approaching, one may find snakes sunning themselves throughout the day. My Girls love to stick their heads under rocks and sniff various burrows; but, 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 will visit your home or Vet’s office 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