Whole Dog Journal's Blog September 16, 2013

Snakeanoia

Posted at 10:48AM - Comments: (3)

Last week, when I was at the emergency clinic with my yellow Labrador foster dog, Riley, I saw another yellow Labrador who was spending the night in the ER. This dog had been bitten by a rattlesnake, and was undergoing treatment.

It’s weird, because another time I was at the emergency clinic with a foster dog -- about four years ago, with a puppy whose kennel cough had taken a turn for the worse (pneumonia set in) -- there was a snake-bitten yellow Labrador that day, too. I had to pull out the photo to share with you here, and when I looked at the date that I took the photo, it was in September, too. It’s high time for rattlers here in the West.

So, after Riley recovered from his misadventure (and spent a day rather stoned from all the Acepromazine they gave him to lower his blood pressure), we hit the trails again. Only now, I’m completely neurotic about this yellow Labrador getting bitten by a rattlesnake.

We actually saw a small on the trail one day. I saw Tito (the Chihuahua) spot something on the dirt road ahead of us, and start to move toward it, sniffing. I could see that it was a snake, albeit a small one. I immediately called all three dogs (Otto, Tito, and Riley) back to me, put their leashes on, and hooked the leashes on a nearby fence so I could get a better look at the snake, and perhaps persuade it to move off the road. It was a baby rattlesnake, but I didn’t have to persuade it: it was dead. I don’t know what killed it; it had some injuries around its neck, and ants were already eating it. One by one, I took the dogs close to it, and I let them get a good sniff, and then told them, “Off. That’s bad. That’s an OFF. Bad off.” Who knows if it will do any good.

Riley’s new family wanted some time to get their house ready, and we set a date for me to turn him over to them. In the meantime, I was taking him out for major runs and swims daily. A tired dog is a good dog! But as the day that he was going to his new family drew closer, I grew increasingly worried that something would happen to him before I was no longer responsible for him. We practiced “Off!” several times a day. I watched him like a hawk on the trail, and took him to places where I had never seen a snake before.

On the evening before he went to his new home, I took him to a place I hadn’t been for a while. And even though I didn’t see an actual snake, my “snakeaphobia” was at an all-time high; I don’t think I’ll go back to that particular area again during snake season. I don’t know why, but there were more snake-looking things in this area than anywhere I’ve ever been. Discarded ropes that looked like snakes. A discarded chain. Sticks! I was just as jumpy as could be. But we made it through the walk unscathed, thank goodness. And now he’s in his new home, and I’m going to sleep in for a week.

Comments (3)

I have never lived where there were rattlers but we did live in the woods in NJ and had a lot of copperheads in the area. One of my elderly Goldens was bitten on her snout and I took her right to the vet (and killed the snake that had come into our fenced in yard). She was treated with antibiotics and it did take a long time for the wound to heal but she was fine and continued to be a fearless hunter until she died at age 16 1/2 years.

Posted by: Olivia | September 20, 2013 6:11 PM    Report this comment

2 years ago,a beautiful Husky & lab was shot after being bitten by a Water Moccasin, PLEASE, inform friends & neighbors,no dog needs to be killed after snake-bite I've had several dogs bitten by moccasins and have pulled all thru it with cream and whole egg!!!!!!!!!!! Don't know why it works,but it does also keep them warm to prevent shock. Mrs Coker [on Trinity River]

Posted by: Unknown | September 17, 2013 3:44 PM    Report this comment

I too live and California, and worry about rattlers this time of year. I have Labs, but maybe they'll be lucky because they're black not yellow. :)

Some things to know about rattle snakes:
- They don't want to waste their poison by biting something too big to eat (people and all but the tiniest of dogs). So (same idea as dog's warning growl) they will use lots of threatening behavior to try to scare you away.
- On the other hand, if stepped on by accident, or teased by an inquisitive dog, they will bite in self-defense.
- Surprisingly, it's worse to be bitten by a small younger snake. Adult snakes know how to ration out their venom (so they'll have some left over should they spot some yummy prey). Youngsters release all the venom at once into whatever they bite, so it's much more lethal.

I know what you mean by "snakeaphobia"! (I'm also prone to "tickaphobia".)

Posted by: LINDA F | September 17, 2013 2:21 PM    Report this comment

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