Snake Bite Emergencies: People and Pets

IF YOU HAVE BEEN BITTEN BY A RATTLESNAKE, THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. DO NOT WAIT FOR SYMPTOMS TO DEVELOP.

  • Call 911 immediately.  If alone, call a friend or family member after calling 911.
  • Try not to panic, stay calm and do not run, but walk to a safe place where emergency medical personnel can find you.
  • Identification of the snake’s species is helpful, but not required.
  • Remove any rings, bracelets, necklaces or clothing that may become constrictive.
  • Wash the area of the bite with soap and water. 
  • Do NOT try to cut the wound open, use a
    “snakebite kit” try to suck out venom, or use a tourniquet! These procedures do not work, and can make matters much worse. 
  • Do NOT drive yourself! If you are close to a nearby hospital, have someone else drive you to the nearest emergency room. Otherwise, wait for help to arrive.
  • Do NOT apply ice!
  • Do NOT drink alcoholic beverages.
  • Do NOT waste valuable time “calling around” to see what facilities may have anti-venin. Health care professionals already know what resources are available, and know exactly where those resources are.
  • A local ambulance/paramedic who is trained in snakebite response will render the assistance you need on site, and are often transferred to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where expert venomous snake envenomation care is provided.  Most often, patients are transported via Mercy Air (air ambulance) from the High Desert. 
  • Stay calm, and know you’re in the well-trained hands of professionals using the latest advances in snakebite/envenomation medicine.

If your pet has been bitten by a snake

  • Keep your pet calm.
  • Do not offer food or water, or medications. This may make matters worse.
  • Remove collar. Use a slip lead if needed instead.
  • Call your local veterinarian
  • Immediately take your pet to get help.

The most effective way to keep your dogs safe in rattlesnake country is to have them avoidance trained. Contact SnakeWorx Avoidance to get your dogs trained today.

A short training session can mean the difference between life and death, is pennies compared to snakebite treatment, and greatly reduces the chance of your dog having a very painful and possibly-a fatal encounter. Dogs are naturally curious. Don’t let your furry family member become a statistic.

A note on rattlesnake vaccine for dogs: The vaccine that is available is not specifically for the 4 species of rattlesnake that are native to our region. While such a vaccine may give you a little big more time to get to a veterinarian, by no means will it prevent the progression of envenomation.

The following veterinary hospital in the High Desert/Victor Valley region normally has anti-venin available. During regular business hours, call your regular veterinarian immediately for advice. On nights, weekends, and holidays:

After Hours/Weekends/Holidays

Animal Emergency Clinic; 12180 Ridgecrest Rd #122; Victorville, CA 92395 760.962.1122

Additional Snake Information Resources

Snake Identification and Removal Services

Snake Trapping Services

This is Rammstein, the author’s German Shepherd Dog, bitten in 2006 by a Mohave Rattlesnake in the muzzle as he was patrolling his fence line. Thanks to the skilled doctors at the Victorville Animal Emergency Clinic, he recovered fully, and lived a long and happy life. This photo was taken 24 hours after discharge from the hospital.