Franktown, CO

7 tips to protect your dog from rattlesnakes

Natasha Lovato
Dogs training at the Rattlesnake Avoidance Clinic.Franktown Animal Clinic and K-9 Friends

Natasha Lovato / NewsBreak Denver

(Franktown, Colo.) - As the weather heats up, rattlesnakes become more active. Even though Colorado Parks and Wildlife say humans pose a greater threat to rattlesnakes than rattlesnakes pose to humans, knowing what to do when you spot one could help keep you and your four-legged friends safe.

Each year in the U.S. thousands of dogs are bitten by rattlesnakes and as many as 10,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes of all kinds, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Friends of Douglas County K-9s However, less than 1% (or roughly 10-15 people) will die as a result. In other words, your daily commute likely poses a greater danger than rattlesnakes do. It’s also important to keep in mind that rattlesnakes are beneficial predators and an important component of Colorado’s ecosystems with a diet of mainly rodents and insects.

Avoiding rattlesnakes

  1. If you find yourself hiking in areas like Roxborough State Park or Castlewood Canyon, be aware that rattlesnakes like to sunbathe, and shadeless areas like rock piles or the trail itself can attract them. Give them space, and walk around these areas.
  2. Avoid walking through brush areas if possible to avoid rattlesnakes, as well as ticks.
  3. Leash your dog to avoid a run-in with a rattlesnake out of plain view.
  4. Know the symptoms to watch out for in the event your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake:
    • Puncture wounds or any bleeding, even inside the mouth
    • Any swelling
    • Excessive panting and drooling
    • Unusual restlessness
    • Tremors or shivers
    • Seizures
    • Diarrhea
    • Lethargy
  5. Seek immediate veterinary care should any of these symptoms become present.
  6. Remain calm to keep your dog’s heart rate low and to avoid accelerating the flow of the venom into its bloodstream.
  7. Avoid medication or ice that could make the wound site worse until veterinary care is sought.

The 7th Annual Rattlesnake Avoidance Clinic

For those who want to go a step farther, the Franktown Animal Clinic and Friends of Douglas County K-9 is hosting a Rattlesnake Avoidance Clinic on June 11 and 12, to train dogs how to avoid rattlesnakes all together.

The event will consist of one-on-one instruction by a rattlesnake avoidance expert in a controlled training environment alongside live rattlesnakes that are neutralized and harmless. The method will allow dogs to learn how to recognize the sight, sound and scent of rattlesnakes and avoid them when encountered.

“We don’t get a lot of animals in for rattlesnake bites, but a lot of our patients are working dogs and so we want to educate our clients should anything happen,” Miguel Zarpate, practice manager at the Franktown Animal Clinic said.

The event is held from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. on June 11 and 12 at the Franktown Animal Clinic at 7658 Burning Tree Dr. in Franktown. The cost for the training session is $105 per dog.

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Lovato covers local news for Douglas County, Colo. Contact via email:

Douglas County, CO

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