BASS LAKE ASSOCIATION
Cottage Country Animal Clinic
Parry Sound Animal Hospital
Huronia Veterinary Emergency Clinic (After Hours Clinic, Barrie)
Georgian Animal Hospital
Township of Muskoka Lakes
Canadian Coast Guard
Marine and Air Search/Rescue
Massasauga Rattlesnakes and Dogs
Any rattlesnake bite is an extremely serious injury. Dogs are sometimes bitten on the legs, but more often on the snout or head as they investigate the snake, or as it strikes at them. Bites to the head, especially on small dogs are particularly serious because the venom and swelling can quickly impair their breathing by cutting off the nasal and tracheal air passages.
What to Do
If you think your dog may have been bitten:
- Watch for symptoms that may include swelling, pain, and discomfort. These symptoms may occur immediately, or may not show for up to two hours.
- Seek IMMEDIATE veterinary attention. DO NOT DELAY going to the nearest vet. Do not wait for “morning”, “the end of the weekend”, or your “regular” vet. Immediate treatment may be the key to your dog’s survival.
Follow these guidelines while you transport your pet:
- Keep your dog calm and do not allow him or her to move around. If they have been bitten on a leg, splint the leg if you can, and keep the leg below the dog’s heart level as you carry him or her.
- DO NOT let the Dog walk! Carry him or her, in a basket or using a blanket as a stretcher, if necessary.
- DO NOT use tourniquets, ice or suction on the injury.
Even venomous snakes do not always inject venom into the wound when they bite.
The veterinarian will first asses whether the dog has in fact been envenomated, and if so to what extent. In mild cases, the veterinarian may only give the dog painkillers. In serious cases, the vet will administer fluids to restore blood pressure, and will inject epinephrine or corticosteroids and antihistamines to treat allergic reaction and swelling.
Anti-venom is rarely given to dogs except in very serious cases, mainly because there is a good chance of recovery without the administration of anti-venom, and the anti-venom has a risk of allergic reaction. As well, the use of anti-venom is also limited by its prohibitive costs–up to five vials may be required to treat most cases.
For maximum safety, it’s always best to keep your dog on leash at all times, particularly in areas where there are known Massasauga Rattler sightings. Dog’s natural curiosity puts them at risk if they are unsupervised.
Learn to identify any local snakes so that you can be knowledgeable about what type of snake has bitten your pet. There are many similar looking harmless snakes in the same areas as rattlesnakes.
Information sourced from the Blue Cross Animal Hospital website.
REFERENCE LINK: Massasauga Rattlesnake, Species at Risk Database, Georgian Bay Biosphere
REFERENCE LINK: Reptiles and Amphibians of Ontario, Ontario Nature
Summer 2021... saw an uptick in the number of (reported) sightings around Bass Lake.
According to Delaina Arnold, Education Programme Manager, and one of the resident snake experts at the Georgian Bay Biosphere in Parry Sound:
- While there is an element of ‘more people, more sightings’ it is more than just that
- Notwithstanding that we had a really hot spring - the weather now that we are in mating season has been cooler and cloudier, so that there is not as much heat stored in the ground or sunshine, hence the snakes are coming out and being more vulnerable and exposed and having to spend more time basking wherever they can to try to capture enough heat to be able to warm up… and to properly gestate their young.
If you have a sighting, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll update the map.
- Include the date, and the location (property address, or What3Words coordinates)
It is important to remember that they are present and active all around the lake.
- Absence of a sighting in a particular part of the lake basin does not mean an absence of rattlesnakes!
Check out these photos - and a video - of recent Bass Lake reports.
- Rattlesnakes are being seen on docks, on the road, on rock steps, outside cottage doors.
- Be cognizant of their presence to minimise risk of an adverse encounter.
Reminder that the Massasauaga Rattlesnake is an endangered species.
- Best practice is to always leave the snake alone... but, the snake (in photo on very long stick) was in the middle of the road at risk of being run over by a car and it was moved, gently and safely, back into the bush away from immediate danger.
- Sadly we know that we've lost at least one rattlesnake that was run over on the road this summer (as pictured). They are hard to see against the road surface, so another reason to mind your speed and keep a sharp eye out.
Learn more about the species, it's habitat and the threats to the population in this COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report.
OPP Direct Line
1-800-310-1133 (TTY only)
Massasauga Rattlesnake Provincial Anti-Venom Depot
West Parry Sound Health Centre
Rattlesnake Bite Information Sheet
LINK here to an excellent primer from the Grey Bruce Health Unit