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Stretch (6 Mo. Old) Battled A Rattlesnake


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Guest superfunk

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Thought the low-down on this whole process might help ease anyone else who encounters this health issue!

 

We live next to a rattlesnake habitat so I imagine this encounter was bound to occur. The snake was a brand new baby prairie rattler, about 10" long and tiny like a pencil. My son saw it in the grass at the neighbor's house and called it out, but Stretch was on top of it in an instant and picked it up in his mouth. Then he yelped and jumped up and dropped it. Only then did we get a chance to identify that it was a rattler--it already had a teensy rattle that it shook like crazy but didn't make any noise. My wife felt under Stretch's chin and came back with two tiny streaks of blood.

 

I had read that the babies are the highest risk since they can't control the release of venom and let it all go in the bite. So we killed the snake, bagged it in a Ziplock, and sped to the nearest emergency vet. Stretch was licking a bit and whimpering but he didn't seem overly stressed and wasn't swelling up, so I started thinking we might have been lucky and the snake didn't envenomate.

 

In about 10 - 15 minutes we arrived at the emergency vet (maybe about 7 or 8 pm), still no swelling. They took Stretch and the snake (still moving and biting even though it was beheaded), and checked us in separately. We had a deep discussion about antivenin. In the end although the vet was very middle of the road and journalistic, her experience with many rattler-bit dogs convinced me that antivenin has mixed results and though in most cases shortens the healing time, the real life saver is hydration, meds, and the dog's natural defense system to manage the venom while under careful supervision. The antivenin costs $900 per dose, and the dog may need multiple doses. After about 10 or 15 minutes we were all set and they brought him back to say goodbye for the night and he had already started swelling under the chin considerably, 2 inches of a lump there. The ER was $1650 for 24 hours of care. This type of issue gets quite expensive quite fast--we had to make tough, critical decisions fast and I was surprised at how money became a factor in that process. I had thought emotion would have won out, but as the expenses escalate it factors in. Sad fact I suppose.

 

They put him on an IV, put his head in a cone, and started him on all sorts of anti-inflammatory meds, pain meds, and hydration. The next day we were allowed visitations of no more than about 10 minutes at a time until he was stable. He continued to swell up throughout the day, so much it looked impossible. He couldn't lay on his chin as he prefers, so he was truly miserable, and the ER was noisy with other needy dogs.

 

Late in the day they let him come to a room and we loved him up for about 45 minutes. Then they had to take him to put him back on the IV--by now, though, they were able to get a little food in him and he had drank water on his own. He had also been able to go outside for some relief. But they called us right after we left and said he was screaming and distressed at losing us, so we returned. Finally, 24 hours later his swelling had begun to subside and he had been weaned off of the IV, so we checked him out and took him home.

 

He was much happier at home and slept and rested well. That night we slept on the floor in the main room with him so that letting him out or managing him would be easier with no stairs to manage. He slept all night.

 

The next day was basically swelling reduction, meds, some whimpering, uncomfortable laying, terrible diarrhea, and surprisingly no drinking. We had moved him to a canned food diet and he was getting all the liquids he needed from that. He never drank all day, but he peed a lot.

 

The following day was a considerable reduction in swelling and pain, and this process continued with incredible speed. He was bit on Sunday--today is Friday and he looks and acts as though nothing happened. He has a shaven spot on his arm where the IV was, and a shaven spot under his chin where they cleaned the wound. There is a 1/2" swollen spot under his chin and that's it.

 

The vet said that most dogs receive some immunity benefits for about 6 months to a year after a bite, but the immunity simply delays the symptoms and gives you more time for treatment, maybe makes treatment easier. But another bite means the same process and same expense.

 

Hope this helps! If your grey ever loses a 'rattle battle' you are not alone...I'm happy to commiserate with you!

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Wow. Glad he's doing okay. This info should be a sticky here.

 

Our neighborhood has been developed for about 30 years and we've never seen a rattlesnake here, but I know they are around. I'm super vigilant about watching where Rocket and visiting hounds stick their heads when we walk, but also know something like this can happen in an instant. It is a reality that we have to be ready for at all times.

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Wow, that is so scary. So glad Stretch is back to his former self.

 

So glad the reaction was not worse. His poor swollen cheeks --- ouch! It really is crazy how fast the charges accrue at the evet!

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Poor baby. He looks so miserable in that photo. :( So glad he's on the mend.

 

Poor baby! He looks miserable :( I'm glad he's feeling better now though. I know in Arizona they have rattler avoidance classes for dogs. You may want to look into it (although this episode may have put him off for life!)

Be careful of those, almost all if not all of those use shock collars and can do more harm than good. I am guessing Stretch may have enrolled himself in his own fast track class though. Suspect he will be more wary the next time around. ;) Edited by NeylasMom

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Yikes, don't do that again, Stretch. Sure, it seemed like a good idea at the time but yowza, that was just too scary. So glad your boy is on the mend.

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:yikes

 

Thankfully, we have no venomous snakes here in Eastern Ontario

 

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Glad he is okay, that is a very scary experience.

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:yikes

Thankfully, we have no venomous snakes here in Eastern Ontario

We have massasauga rattlesnakes here. You don't?

 

Poor Stretch! Glad he's feeling better.

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How is Stretch this morning?

 

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Guest superfunk

How is Stretch this morning?

Thanks for asking! It is as though nothing ever happened. Not even one week later and no issues, no swelling, nothing. He's playing and back on a fully normal schedule. I would have never believed it.

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