Vets warn pet owners to watch out for rattlesnakes, seek medication to prevent ticks

MEDICAL LAKE, Wash. — Rattlesnakes and ticks, oh my! Veterinarians want you to keep an eye and ear out for them.

When it’s warm out, rattlesnakes like to be on rocks and hide in small spaces. Veterinarians say you won’t see it due to its camouflage, but you’ll most likely hear a distinct rattle.

If you come across one, don’t panic. Dr. Holly Hzura, associate veterinarian at Medical Lake Veterinary Hospital, said a snake will bite someone if it feels threatened. If your pet becomes a victim, Holly said don’t touch the snake. She explained that it’ll most likely slither off after it feels there is no threat.

She also said don’t touch bite mark because it could actually make the pain worse.

Holly said to get them medical attention immediately. Waiting could have deadly consequences.

“That’s when it’s the worse case scenario because at that point in time, we can see non-reversible symptoms and long-term damage to their tissues and nerves,” Holly said, “and that can definitely have long-term lasts.”

Most emergency clinics carry anti-venom. Holly said it neutralizes the venom to one area rather than it potentially spreading.

There is a rattlesnake vaccine, which Holly recommends for hunting dogs or people who take them hiking. It doesn’t prevent bites, but it could delay symptoms. Some include swelling and a lack of energy.

On top of rattlesnakes being out, so are ticks. Eastern Washington has three types. Two are seasonal and brown ticks are year-round.

“We’ve been seeing ticks on animals left and right here,” Holly said. “We’ve been pulling them off every day, pretty much.”

She said they’re extremely strong this year and are ‘coming out with a vengeance.’

Ticks can be found in the grass and wooded areas. Holly said most of the time, you won’t see them.

“They can be as small as a poppy seed, very similar to a poppy seed muffin that you would see and it’s very, very difficult to see those ticks,” Holly explained.

So if you can’t see them, how do you protect your pets? Holly said the only real way is medication.

“It will ensure that if your pet does get a tick on them, they will die,” she said. “Because they’re so furry and you want to go out and enjoy the day, there’s just no good way to prevent it otherwise.”

She suggests using an oral medicine rather than topical because the prescription grade oral medication will provide full coverage.

If a tick does bite your pet, your animal has a chance of getting Lyme disease or tick paralysis. Holly said they’ve seen cases of tick paralysis, especially in dogs and cats.

“You could see your animals not being able to walk,” Holly said. “It might start with some weakness or some stumbling and eventually they might just not be able to move at all.”

Holly explained that ticks can easily be removed. You can do it yourself, but a veterinarian is your best bet.

“There’s no exact right or wrong way to remove a tick, but definitely removing them is really important,” she said.

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