SNAKE BITE BONNIE – What to do if a rattlesnake bites your pet!

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  • April 25, 2016
A rattlesnake bit Bonnie and she was near death before receiving antivenin.

Snake Bite Bonnie

No matter how careful you are

No matter careful you are to insure your pet’s safety, no matter how mindful you are that it’s rattlesnake season, could this happen to your dog? Bonnie, a sweet little miniature Dachshund, did nothing wrong. Her owners did nothing wrong. She was just playing in her yard along with the other dogs at her house.  Suddenly, a rattlesnake appeared, biting her on the right side of the muzzle.

The owners scooped Bonnie up, jumped into the car and made the 35 minute drive from Florence to Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic in 20 minutes.

A Diamondback Rattlesnake like the one that bit Bonnie.

A Diamondback Rattlesnake like the one that bit Bonnie.

When Bonnie got to the clinic she was lying on her side, unresponsive with labored breathing and a weak pulse. Her muzzle, where she had been bitten, was swelling. She laid there on her side, not moving. The experienced staff at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic immediately took Bonnie in and began administering oxygen. As Dr. Schmidt evaluated the dog’s condition, IV fluids were started. Narcotics were given for pain. He explained the situation to the owners who already were prepared for the worst.  At this point it been less than 40 minutes since Bonnie had been bitten and she looked bad. She would have a chance with antivenin and the owners gave the go ahead.

Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic always has antivenin on hand for its clients and their pets and a vial was reconstituted. Within an hour of being bitten, Bonnie had received the antivenin and was being monitored continuously by the experienced and well trained staff. A technician constantly monitored her condition throughout the day. Later that afternoon, Bonnie became more alert and responsive. By the end of the day she was able to sit up and move around. Eventually she could walk a few steps.

This story has a happy ending because:

A).The owners got their pet to the veterinarian immediately.

B). Antivenin was administered quickly.

But luck had something to do with it as well. Rattlesnake bites can, and often are, fatal and responsible pet owners are going to great lengths to keep their pets safe. The rattlesnake vaccine can buy time and mitigate the effects of a snakebite. “Snake proofing” pets to steer clear of snakes is helpful but doesn’t take into account snakes that literally come out of nowhere. Additionally, some people are reluctant to subject their dog to the electric shock used with most snake proofing methods even though that shock could save their pet’s life. And, while Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic stocks antivenin- the cost, while nowhere approaching what’s spent when a human gets bit, is not cheap. So what is a responsible pet owner to do? Everything possible to insure your pet and a snake never, ever meet. That means assuming rattlesnakes are everywhere.

  • Don’t let your pet nose around the yard before you’ve checked what’s lurking there
  • Don’t let your pet get ahead of you on a hike.
  • Teach your pet to avoid snakes.
  • Consider a rattlesnake vaccine.

But if despite all these precautions your dog does get bit, remember,

Bonnie survived because her owners took action immediately.

 

For more information on snakes and snakebites in San Tan Valley, contact Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic

Contact Us

270 East Hunt Hwy, Ste. #4
San Tan Valley, AZ 85143
480-987-4555