It's the season that you may see some snakes out and about sunbathing at this time of the year. Snakes thrive in temperatures from 50 - 85 degrees. A venemous snake bite can be deadly for you or your pet. Dogs are more likely to encounter a snake than humans simply because they frolic in fields with high grass and explore and sniff around, unlike their human parents. This makes them 20 times more likely to be bit than a human. Bites to the face and legs are most common in dogs. Most dog snake bites occur by complete accident. The dog is sniffing around and the snakes don't take kindly to big sniffing noses or continous barking at them. There are 25 species of snakes in Colorado, with only a couple being venomous.
We have been out on paved trails many times and have ran across them. You don't have to be in a grassy field or off trail to see them. I've seen them sunbathing right on the sidewalk in very residential areas in Parker. I have yet to see a rattle snake (at least to my knowledge). But that is only because I avoid the encounters at all cost.
Here are some suggestions to avoid any dangerous encounters.
Keep your dog leashed. While it is much more fun to do adventures off leash while hiking, you will be more in tune with your dogs immediate surroundings when they are on leash. Dogs can still accidentally run into a snake while on leash of course, especially in the beautiful outdoors of Colorado. However, keeping them close and being aware and present can minimize the risk.
Keep your dog away from rocks or off path in large bundles of rocks. Snakes like the heat from the rocks and this is the perfect snake den. If your furry pal is sniffing in those gaps in between rocks, we just don't know what he may find.
Stay in tuned to your pet. If he has found something, sniffing crazily, and you don't know what it is - tell him to leave it. Another sign is if your dog starts jumping back! Also, your dog will likely go into protective mode if he runs across a snake. He will try and protect you from a snake. So if he is barking furiously at what appears to be nothing, try and distract him and move on quickly.
Stay away from tall grass. If your dog wanders into a field with tall grass, it will be difficult for him to spot a snake and have fair warning.
If you are venturing off trail, a walking stick could be a good idea. Snakes feel vibrations from the ground. Usually they will avoid you as much as you want to avoid them. If they feel you coming, they likely will slither away to avoid you too!
Make sure your dog knows the "Leave It" command and follows it well. If he encounters a snake, he likely will be in a very aggressive protective stance and it may be difficult for him to listen to you. Knowing "Leave It" could save his life!
Assume all snakes are venomous! Unless you are a snake expert, don't stick around and see. Even a non venomous bite can be painful, even if not lethal.