Local Medical Issues
Rattlesnakes can commonly be found in Northern California, and rattlesnake bites pose a hazard for both people and pets. They are typically active from about March through September, and can be found almost anywhere, but especially near rivers and less-developed areas with wildlife.
When a dog or cat is bitten by a rattlesnake, it is usually around the face (dogs) and extremities (both dogs and cats). It is impossible to know how much venom has actually been injected through a snake's fangs into the bite wounds, so it is extremely important to seek veterinary attention right away. The rattlesnakes in California tend to have hemotoxic venom, which means that the venom disrupts the integrity of blood vessels. Shock, hemorrhage and severe bruising are common with envenomation. Common treatment will include IV fluids, antibiotics and supportive care. In some cases, anti-venin, which is a serum derived from horses with antibodies against four of the most common types of rattlesnakes, needs to be used.
The best treatment for rattlesnake bites is prevention. Be aware of your surroundings. Keep your dogs close to you or on a leash and walk on marked trails. If you see a snake, give it a wide berth and avoid making sudden movements that might startle it. Rattlesnakes are an important part of our ecosystem and most of them just want to be left alone.