Pictured: Rattlesnake

Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Common signs to watch for:

  • Acute difficulty breathing
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Swelling in the area of the bite or the airway
  • Elevated respiratory rate
  • Dermal injury (skin sloughing)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Organ failure

Rattlesnakes are found throughout certain regions of the world, and can be deadly to animals when envenomated. In the United States, common examples include the Eastern diamondback, Mojave, and Timber rattlesnake. Due to their curious nature, dogs and cats are typically bitten in the face and front legs.
Fang punctures may be difficult to see due to the fur of the animal. The best way to avoid a rattlesnake bite in a dog is to keep your dog under a tightly controlled leash when hiking in “rattlesnake” country.

Clinical signs of envenomation include acute difficulty breathing, clotting abnormalities (resulting in bruising and bleeding), abnormal breathing (due to fluid shifts within the lungs), dermal injury (resulting in tissue sloughing), cardiovascular shock, and even organ failure.

If you suspect your pet was bitten by a rattlesnake, prompt veterinary attention is necessary for IV fluids, pain medication, wound care, and the antidote (a costly antivenom). Contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for life-saving advice. Do not approach the snake trying to identify it, or you yourself may be bitten.

Poison type: envenomations

Alternate names: Crotalids, poisonous snakes, rattlesnake, Timber rattlesnake, cottonmouth, water moccasin, copperheads, venom, antivenin, antivenom, eastern diamondback