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Can your dog avoid a rattlesnake?

Friday, August 1st, 2014 | Posted by


(PD File)

(PD File)

“I’d say that most dog owners don’t really think about snake bites until they see a rattlesnake for themselves, in parks, or their own backyards, and then realize their dogs can be at risk,” says John Potash co-founder and co-owner of Get Rattled.

Get Rattled will hold a Rattlesnake Avoidance Training Clinic for dogs on Saturday, Aug 9 at the 4-H Center of Rohnert Park. The event is by appointment or walk-in from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost for training is $75 per dog or $50 for people who have attended before.

According to Dr. Margaret Basurto, an associate veterinarian at Healdsburg Veterinary Hospital, rattlesnake bite danger is higher this year because of the continuing drought.

“Get Rattled is a unique training clinic designed specifically to teach dogs on rattlesnake avoidance. We have been teaching this clinic for 14 years and have successfully trained over 5,000 dogs,” added Potash.

Licensed by the Nevada Department of Wildlife and with over 24 years of experience working with venomous snakes, in public education and wildlife rescue, Potash has a lot of knowledge about snakes and their habits. He works with Willie J. Stevens Jr. who has over 20 years of experience training and judging pointing dogs.

According to Potash, this type of training is a crucial tool for dog owners who live in climates that support rattlesnakes.

“Prevention is your number one line of defense in protecting your dogs from venomous snakes. When dogs and their owners go hiking, camping, or to the park where dogs go off leash, this training teaches them to be fearful of the rattlesnake. It also protects the people as well, as the dog becomes an alert system. This training has proven to be an effective tool in teaching rattlesnake avoidance to all dogs from Great Danes to Chihuahuas,” he said.

Rattlesnakes can regulate the amount of venom they inject when they bite so the health risks to an animal can vary based on the amount of venom, size of the snake, size of the dog and where the bite occurred. Potash suggests that people learn some general signs of a bite along with health risks in case they are not near their pet when it is bitten.

“Dogs are usually bitten on their front limbs, neck, head, or face so look for bleeding and severe swelling in those areas. A dog will often act as though something is bothering them by rubbing or licking the affected area. After some time, the venom may produce nausea, vomiting, and the dog can seem lethargic. If you see a snake bite happen or notice these symptoms, keep your dog calm and take your dog to a vet right away. It’s always better to be safe than sorry,” he said.

Vaccination is a way to gain time to get veterinary help and to minimize the dog’s reaction to the venom as well. Antivenin is an expensive way to treat an unvaccinated animal. Vaccination allows the dog to be treated with NSAIDS, antibiotics and steroid medication, and if the antivenin is needed, less can be used.

The Rattlesnake Avoidance Training Clinic will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug 9 at the 4-H Center of Rohnert Park located at 6445 Commerce Boulevard. Classes last between 20 and 30 minutes. Cost for the training is $75 per dog of $50 for reinforcement training.

A second training session will take place on Saturday, August 16 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cooperhaus Kennels in San Jose. For more information, call 775-234-8844.




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Nick Walden is our Rohnert Park + Cotati correspondent.
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