Keep Your Pet Safe from Reptilian Creatures
Reptiles are scary creatures; at least we humans make them out to be despite whether they are actually harmful or not. They can be equally scary to dogs, cats, and other pets, yet animals don’t necessarily have the same fear response to reptilian life forms as we do. Certainly, after being chased or attacked by a reptile, any person or animal will develop some form of apprehension in the presence of these potentially dangerous creatures. From a health and safety standpoint, my best suggestion is for pets and people to avoid any and all direct reptilian interaction.
Reptiles breathe air, have zero to four legs, and reproduce by laying fertilized eggs. Alligators, crocodiles, lizards, snakes, and turtles are just a few examples of familiar reptiles.
Regionally, warmer climates have more reptiles and provide the environmental conditions allowing people and pets to encounter them most often. Canyons, fresh water ponds, golf course water holes, hiking trails, swamps and other habits host these herpetological specimens.
While the number of people who are bit by venomous snakes in the United States is seemingly high at upwards of 40,000 per year, the number of people who die is quite low. According to VenomousReptiles.org, “wild venomous snakes in the USA kill 12 or less people each year.
How do these human statistics relate to our pets? Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) reports that in 2008, the snake was the wild animal most commonly injuring our pets. Red Rock Biologics, the manufacturer of Crotalus Atrox Toxoid (CAT) vaccination, discloses that “150,000 dogs and cats are bitten annually in the United States by venomous snakes. Additionally, dogs are 500 times more likely to be bitten by a poisonous snake than to get rabies.”
Here are tips to keep your pet safe from trauma or death associated with these reptile encounters
- Maintain control of your dog in outdoor environments by using a flat leash no longer than six feet. Retractable leashes put dogs at risk for illness or injury that can otherwise be avoided by staying closer to their human guardian.
- Don’t let your pet roam unsupervised in your yard or out in public spaces.
- Keep pets out of and away from fresh water ponds and lakes.
- Be extra cautious during times of heavy rains and floods, which can drive wildlife to unusual locations.
- Keep your grass short, brush cleared, and the yard free of miscellaneous toys and tools that create hiding places for reptiles.
- Don’t leave pet or human foods outside because rodents will come to feed which in turn attracts reptiles.
- Know the types of snakes and other reptiles prevalent in your area. Familiarity with these creatures can provide valuable insight to the veterinarian overseeing your pet’s care should a bite occur. ReptileKnowledge.com is a helpful resource.
- Inquire with your veterinarian if the Crotalus Atrox Toxoid (CAT) vaccination is appropriate for your dog. CAT decreases tissue injury, reduces swelling, and lessens the systemic (multiple body systems) adverse effects associated with rattlesnake bites.
Besides the obvious risks of trauma from reptiles, people and pets can also be exposed to infectious disease after coming into direct or indirect contact with these creatures’ bodies, waste, or containment systems. Bacteria, parasites, and other organisms can transmit between reptiles, humans, and pets. The Centers for Disease Control’s Healthy Pets Healthy People features helpful information to protect your pets and family members in Reptiles, Amphibians, and Salmonella.
Prevention is really the best medicine, so striving to keep your pet safe from trauma and illness is always better than having to pursue emergency treatment.