Kelowna and now Kamloops vet stocking rattlesnake antivenom | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna and now Kamloops vet stocking rattlesnake antivenom

It's rattlesnake season in B.C.'s interior, but there's one more location to take your pet if they strike.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
April 10, 2021 - 3:30 PM

Dr. Adrian Helmers at Neighbourhood Veterinary Clinic usually treats two to three pets per year for rattlesnake bites in Kamloops, but the antivenom hasn't been available in the city until now.

It's just in time for hiking season. As the weather warms and pet owners get on the trails, knowing there's antivenom available can lessen the worry when Fido starts roaming off-trail.

"There's a lot of hoops to jump through and it expires quickly," Dr. Helmers said. "But I think it'll be nice to have in our community."

READ MORE: What you need to know about the northern Pacific rattlesnake in B.C's Interior

She also works at Fairfield Animal Hospital in Kelowna, which is the only other pet clinic in the Thompson-Okanagan to carry antivenom.

The treatment costs $800 without pet insurance, but Dr. Helmers said they sell the treatment nearly at cost because when there's a bite, it's essential.

Like humans, if your animal is bit by a rattlesnake, it's advised to seek treatment within 24 hours. However, getting antivenom as close to the time of bite as possible is crucial to minimize the chances of permanent damage to the affected area, Dr. Helmers said.

"I should stress the importance of getting pet insurance because the majority of them would cover a rattlesnake bite," she said.

READ MORE: Don't be ssscared: The 7 snakes of the Thompson-Okanagan

The treatment involves not just a bag of antivenom fluid, but constant monitoring to manage pain and address possible allergic reactions. Often it can be a 24-hour stay at the animal hospital.

As an animal health professional and a dog owner, she also stressed the importance of being prepared when taking your pet out on the trails.

"Have a plan to carry your dog out if you have to. Especially a big dog, if it has a limp or is lame after an accident, you should have a method of carrying it out somehow. And I always recommend asking vet tech for what might be good to have in a pet first aid kit," Dr. Helmers said.

It's important to remember that rattlesnakes generally won't bite if you leave them alone. It's also not guaranteed that they will inject venom on every bite, however it's important to note that a juvenile rattlesnake has no control over how much venom it will excrete. Those can be more dangerous than an adult.

More of our rattlesnake stories can be found here.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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