You can find great hiking trails in Colorado all year around, but during the warmer months you have to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes! According to Red Rock Biologics, a leading supplier of rattlesnake vaccine, dogs are up to 500x more likely to be bitten by venomous snakes like rattlers than to contract rabies.

In Colorado Springs, it’s the Western or prairie rattlesnake that you are most likely to come into contact with, even in the foothills up to 7,000 feet of elevation. You’ll find prairie rattlers out and about on warm days between April and October in Ute Valley Park, Pulpit Rock Open Space, and Cheyenne Mountain State Park in addition to the city’s most-visited park — Garden of the Gods. It’s good to have a healthy respect for rattlesnakes because they can definitely ruin a fun day hike outdoors.

Rattlesnakes are less likely to attack people, but will attack dogs if they feel threatened. A curious dog can get too close and end up bitten just as quickly as a dog protecting its owner on the trail. Thousands of dogs across the United States are bitten each year, so it’s good to be prepared if you’re exploring some of the places they call home.

In the event that you or your dog are bitten, try to stay calm and control your breathing. And then seek immediate emergency medical treatment.

Human fatalities from rattlesnake bites are rare, but it’s best to seek care as quickly as you can at your local ER or urgent care. Most dogs will also survive if treated with antivenom. But in both cases, snake venom may cause significant pain, swelling, and other problems.

Vaccination can reduce the effect of a snake bite, possibly eliminating the need for antivenom or decreasing additional treatment costs for hospitalization, intravenous fluids, medicines, or even surgery. But even if your dog is vaccinated you should visit your vet to evaluate the wound and necessity for further treatment.

Here at Centennial Animal Hospital, we get our vaccine from Red Rocks Biologics.

If you have any questions, be sure to consult with your local veterinarian to make the best medical decisions for you and your pets!