SNAKES ALIVE!

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By Miriam Raftery

March 27, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - The warm is warming up, and snakes are coming out of hibernation.

Several rattlesnakes have been spotted on trails on Cowles Mountain, local hikers report, to cite just one example, as well as in rural areas.

Rattlers pose a concern not only to hikers, but also to dogs on trails, at home and even on the beach—in fact a rattlesnake was scene in Ocean Beach earlier this month.

Short of leaving Fido indoors, what can you do to protect man’s best friend?

There are some options.  You can ask your veterinarian for a rattlesnake vaccine, which is administered in two parts.   A dog bitten by a rattlesnake should still be taken to a veterinarian for evaluation and possible treatment, but the vaccine can buy you time, since snake bites can be deadly for your canine companion. The vaccine also isn’t effective about every variety of  snakes; it’s based on a common rattlesnake species.

Another option is to enroll your dog in a rattlesnake aversion class, which teaches the dogs to avoid snakes.  While helpful, the training is only effective in keeping dogs from actively going after a snake – it won’t protect a pooch frolicking through dense brush and accidentally startling a snake from being bitten for instance.

It’s wise to keep your dog on a leash when hiking, and to use extra caution during the spring months, when rattlesnakes are most active and bites are most common.