If you and your pets live in Arizona, knowing basic rattlesnake bite safety could end up saving your pet’s life. As a pet owner, a rattlesnake bite is frightening and can be one of the most dangerous situations you will face with your pet. Not only do you need to act fast to save your pet’s life, you also need to know what to do in the moments after a bite.

Pay attention to this list! Its contents could end up saving you or your pet’s life one day.

DON’T: Try To Scare Away the Snake

If your dog has been bitten by a snake, then he or she might try to strike back. Without putting yourself in further danger, act quickly to get away. In these situations, it is essential that you remove both yourself and your pet from the snake. Remember that snakes have a very wide striking distance.

DO: Call Emergency Vet Services Immediately

Venom enters the bloodstream as soon as your dog or cat has been bitten, which means they need emergency veterinary treatment as soon as possible.

The sooner you can get on the phone with veterinary emergency services, the better. If you live in Tucson, contact us at the Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center. When veterinarians need urgent help or antivenom to save a pet’s life, they turn to the emergency vets at our Tucson animal hospital, and so should you.

DON’T: Use a Tourniquet

Using a tourniquet can contribute to tissue death. By restricting blood flow near the bite, the venom is concentrated in one area and the blood there is not oxygenated, which can lead to necrosis. Because rattlesnake venom is hemotoxic (it damages red blood cells, platelets, and blood proteins that allow normal blood clotting), it prevents the pet rattlesnake bite wound from clotting. Unfortunately, many pet owners mistakenly think a tourniquet will stop the bleeding.

DO: Check for Symptoms of a Pet Rattlesnake Bite

Unless your pet was on a leash when bitten, it may not be immediately clear what happened. If your pet is acting strangely or you notice a sudden change in personality, it’s important to check for the following pet rattlesnake bite symptoms:

  • Bleeding puncture wounds
  • Swelling and bruising around that puncture wound
  • Slow or ragged breathing
  • Whimpering in pain or fear
  • Sluggish behavior, lethargy, or trembling

DON’T: Suck the Venom Out

Don’t believe what you see on TV! Once snake venom is in the bloodstream, it’s there to stay. Trying to suck venom out of your pet’s wound is akin to trying to take a vaccination out of your system once it’s been administered. Instead, you should seek out a veterinary emergency or specialty center immediately. You don’t have time to lose.

DO: Keep the Wound Below Heart-Level

It may seem like common sense to elevate the wound; unfortunately, the exact opposite is true for snake bites. Our emergency veterinarians in Tucson will tell you that the goal is to keep the infected blood away from the heart as long as possible. Keeping the bite lower than the heart can help with this.

Here in the United States, about 38.9 million homes include a pet cat, and 46.3 million include a dog. If you live in any region of the country with rattlesnake populations, then it’s crucial to be prepared for anything. First, you should know what to do (and what not to do) after your pet is bitten by a rattlesnake. Second, you should have a veterinary emergency center on speed dial — just in case.

Above all else, remain calm while you seek out emergency veterinary services. Venomous snake bites, especially rattlesnake bites, are treatable with the right antivenom, but only if you get to the animal hospital in time.