What to do if your dog tangles with a Massasauga.
There have been some local stories of late regarding dogs being bitten by the Massasauga Rattlesnake here in Michigan, so we thought we would post a few links as well as some protocol of what to do if your dog tangles with a snake in one of our area Metroparks.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Brenda Lecroix of Davisburg was pretty astute in getting her dog to the vet as soon as possible after surprising our only native venomous snake in Michigan at a park in Shiawassee Basin recently.

We decided to look around a bit to find some good information for fall hikers and came across a great list of what to do on this site about the Massasauga Rattler.

Bites occur to the legs, but more frequently to the face, since dogs use their nose to investigate their surroundings. If the dog is bitten on the head, the situation is serious due to the speed with which the venom can impair the dog’s respiratory functions. Dr. Hilary Turnbull, of the Georgian Animal Hospital in Parry Sound, confirms that small dogs (especially terriers) are particularly at risk if bitten on the face, since the swelling can encompass a good part of their head.

Their list of dos and don’ts include the following:

  • If your dog surprises a rattlesnake and is bitten, he/she may exhibit swelling, pain, or signs of discomfort. Watch for these signs.
  • It is important to keep your pet calm and restrict his/her movement.
  • If possible, splint the bitten extremity, and keep the limb below heart level. DO NOT let the dog walk.
  • DO NOT apply tourniquets, ice or suction to the limb.

We haven’t heard of these types of incidents here in Ann Arbor, but it’s good to know that the Detroit Zoo came through with antivenom to help Kodi through this ordeal.

Have you encountered a Massasauga? Let us know.

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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.