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Dealing with our first snake bite on a horse…

16 Jun

Horse with recent snake bite

Today hasn’t gone as planned.

This three year old mare, Hope, is still eating, drinking and breathing normally although she has clearly been bitten by a snake. It looks like I am going to have hands on experience with something I have only read about.

My first surprise is that she seems more comfortable than I would have imagined, which is a good thing because keeping her calm is not going to be an issue. But it is still early. More swelling should happen in the next 24 hours.

Aside from being in Texas I would not have thought that she is in a very high risk area. She is near the barn in a high traffic area. There are not rocks or logs or other typical hiding places. The snake had to have chosen to enter the high traffic area where the horses and cattle are. There is no feed stored near this area and the horses clean up what is fed.

When I visited with the vets I learned a couple of interesting things. One lady was telling me that she had a kennel with 20 dogs boarded there and the back was open for air…and a snake entered. What happened to these things trying to avoid contact if possible?

I also learned that anti-venom isn’t widely used.

My first clue about this was on a trip with my kids to a nature preserve where they were speaking about snakes. I asked about snake bites, on humans, and was told that most often the person is not given anti-venom but is observed and the symptoms are treated.

I have talked with several vets today and they don’t even have the anti-venom available. The closest vet assured me that they typically treat five horses a week…although they treated five this last weekend…not a good sign. I wish it was an option because I would spend the extra just to be safe but three vets later I guess not.

All the vets agree that we are treating the swelling and to prevent infection. They don’t exactly agree on doses and medications…interesting.

Hope is generally good with shots. She had blood drawn for her coggins test this spring as well as her shots and was fine. Not so fine AFTER the snake bite. I’m just guessing that her recent encounter with the snake has her seriously jumpy about anything that feels prickly. Just a guess.

‘Hope’fully we will see major improvement with the treatments. I will keep you posted. Prayers are appreciated.

There are many interesting articles online about snake bites, like this one. If you have one to share…please do.

Swelling on horses face after snake bite

High traffic area with no hiding places for snakes

High traffic area with no hiding places for snakes

P.S.- for added fun the air conditioning went bye-bye in our van on the trip to the vets…over 90 degrees here in Texas…the kids are learning how the ‘good old days’ prior to air-conditioning were…

 
81 Comments

Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Life

 

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81 responses to “Dealing with our first snake bite on a horse…

  1. Lesia Lowe

    June 16, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    very thankful it was not one of your boys or any other human…. hate to say it… but better the horse than a human… praying she heals…

     
  2. susan teague

    June 16, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    She should be just fine if it was a copperhead. I have had Dogs get bitten and my husband was bitten a few years back and all they do is monitor the patient (human or animal) and give antibiotics. It did take more than 24 hours for the swelling to be notably less, it was closer to three days. I have you in my prayers!

     
  3. Mathilde

    June 16, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    We had a 7 month old filly where i used to work get bitten or stung by something. Her nose and face swelled up a lot. She was given oral banamine and Naxcel.

     
  4. melody

    June 16, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Hmmmmm you would think they would have anti venom for this. I have seen what the posion does to blood. Healing prayers for this girl. Vets are drs and you can go to 10 different drs and get 10 different diagonos. It is just nuts. I HATE HATE HATE SNAKES. I was bit when I was young but it was non venomos.

     
  5. Sue Cloet

    June 16, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Hugs and prayers for your mare best of luck❤

     
  6. Lori

    June 16, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Thinking of u both scary for sure

     
  7. robin

    June 16, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Ah–bummer!!! My daughter’s boxer gets bitten a lot by the pigmy rattlers. His face is blown up like that a lot. Sure hope the horse recovers well. Poor thing.

     
  8. Linda Poff

    June 16, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Stacy, I am praying for Hope. Your articles on line are VERY helpful to me. I did not grow up with horses. I did ask my Aunt to steal one when I was 5….on way home from Sunday school.
    You were so beautiful on Roxy I just cried from the sheer beauty of your performances.
    I learned at 5 years old NOT to steal horses….I did buy some long after I became Grandma…
    Your great knowledge you share really helps me to help my horses. God bless You Stacy. Thank You for sharing.
    Linda Poff

     
  9. Rene Trebing

    June 16, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    I live in Florida and have dealt with a couple snake bites. I came out one night and my gelding was stomping like crazy. I grabbed some drawing salve and lathered up his leg. In the am it was white and foamy and I wiped it off. No swelling and all the toxins were drawn out. My mare had two bite marks on her neck tonight drawing salve and checking on her!!!!

     
  10. Christine Johnson

    June 16, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I had a horse bitten by a copperhead here in Pa. Same thing, no meds. Packed it with black drawing salve and it did not get infected and swelling was down in 2 days. Also gave him some bute. Wish you well and hope Hope gets better fast!

     
  11. Carol Zorn

    June 16, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    If it’s really dry, the snakes will come in for water….the swelling will depend on how much venom was injected of course…last time the snake ate. Sometimes it can be a dry bite, then you just have to deal with the infection part of it. I live in NM and have to deal with Diamond backs from spring till late fall. Just had a red racer on the front porch at noon. Good luck with your horse, I’ll bet she does well, it’s all about support. Just really hard to watch.

     
  12. Julie

    June 16, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I had a Shetland pony as a child and she was bitten on the nose by a rattlesnake. The vet inserted a section of water hose in each nostril/nasal passage to keep them open due to the intense swelling. Thats all i remember. I dont know what meds were used but She lived.

     
  13. Catherine Woods

    June 16, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Snakes are pretty scarce in the uk and only one, the adder, is poisonous but to everyone’s surprise a horse a couple of miles away sustained a bite which must have been from one…his leg became huge but he responded well to treatment however the vet had seen a few cases that year and warned that in a few weeks the horse would possibly suffer develop an abcess on his liver…… sadly that is what happened and he was lost…presuming vets over your way will have everything under control as they would I gues have much more practice

     
  14. me

    June 16, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    We had a horse bit by a copperhead last year. We researched the symptoms online and insisted to the local vet that’s what it was. She thought it was a stone that entered her hoof and came out the cornary band. I asked my farrier what the likelihood of that was and he said he’d NEVER seen it proven that it happens. We believe the horse was bit right at the cornary band. When I found her (later the day it happened) she was unsteady on her feet and not moving well. She had the “shakes” too. My first thought was EMP. It took her 2 hours to move several hundred feet from the field to the barn. The vet told us to give antibiotics 2xday. (Seems like we may have given bute too?) We also cold hosed her leg/hoof. She swelled all the way up the leg to the elbow. You could tell she was in pain. I hurt for her and was amazed that it was so bad. The next day however, I encountered a horrid smell and discovered that the abscess had broken open. This was most welcome as the swelling went down quickly and was completely gone in a few days. (Maybe a week? It was last year so my memory isn’t perfect.) The bite sight ended up causing a bump and a horizontal “crack” in her hoof wall. When it grew down near the toe, it caused a stretched line that made her uncomfortable and “trippy” though she never seemed to be sore on the hoof. The farrier trimmed the toe shorter, warning us that she would be on her sole in the toe area ’til it grew out. (This was just a few months ago.) The trim did make her more comfy at the time and in another trim will probably be back to 100%. I realize all horses aren’t bit on the leg, some are on the face but this is our story. Hope it is helpful to someone.

     
    • me

      June 16, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      I should have said that this was our fist experience in over 20years of horse ownership also.

       
  15. Sharon Baldwin

    June 16, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Many years ago we had very few veterinarians in the Asheville, NC area so when we needed one it took hours and sometimes days to get the very faithful and wise, Dr Betts out to treat our horses. He was from “the old school” and taught many of us some very interesting pointers about horse care. One I’ll never forget was about snake bites. He said to cut-off a piece of hose about 2 ft long and insert the hose through one nostril (very gently) to keep the swelling from closing off their air. Thank heavens I never had to try this and I’m not sure how far, exactly you’d push the hose without causing some damage but if I ever had a need I’d sure give it a try! Good luck!!

     
  16. worship1

    June 16, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Hey Stacy, could the snakes be looking for a water source?… just a thought … Praying the Hope lives up to her name on this one. HE loves the horses too. 😉 Keep cool there in TX and God bless!

     
  17. Lois OBriant

    June 16, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    I live 50 miles west of Houston and my dogs were bitten by copperheads several times last summer. Out in the open like your horse. I gave them Benadryl and pain med and their vet gave me some antibiotics. Same dog was bitten several times and each time swelling and reaction was less. Guess they build up a resistance to it, I just wish he’d keep his head out of their way!

     
  18. Tracy

    June 16, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    I have read about endurance riders out west keeping a 12″ length of tubing, such as a cut off piece of hose, in their packs to insert up the horses nose if far from a vet. This will help the horse breath if the swelling gets very bad. Happily we don’t have venomous snakes where I live.

     
  19. Sadie

    June 16, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    We had a three week old filly bet bit on the nose last year. I had to milk the mare every few hours for two days. Thankfully the filly was feisty and determined, and the vet was able to reduce her swelling quickly, so she was back to nursing after only one sleepless night for me! I learned that breast pumps work great on mares! You never know what you’ll need to know raising horses!

     
  20. Rebecca Fetterman Vensel

    June 16, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Does this mean you might consider returning to Ohio???? Ohioans can only “Hope”… Seriously, though I will be praying for Hope’s healing.

     
  21. Terrie White

    June 16, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Try lasering

     
  22. H. Collings

    June 16, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Stacy, I hope your mare is doing better. Living in AZ & NM the last 20 yrs we have had our share of snake bites on horses & dogs. The only 2 horses I have ever heard of dieing from a bite WERE GIVEN THE ANTI-VENOM and were allergic to it, so I suggest you don’t ever try this. Antibiotics & dex are the only meds we have used. The best snake control I have found is barn cats. Also, bull snakes will drive out rattlers, so if you find those, keep them. Good luck.

     
  23. Annie Gass

    June 16, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    In barns one finds feed. Where one finds feed, one finds rodents. Where one finds rodents, one finds critters that feed on rodents. Snakes have an excellent sense of smell and are capable of following a scent trail. Rats always deliberately leave a scent trail of urine wherever they go (UGH!That’s why they spoil every bit of feed they pass across….) So snakes in barns, kennels, etc. are neither improbable nor unusual.
    Antihistamines, antibiotics, and making sure to keep the airway open are all that is usually needed. A bad reaction to antivenom is a risk to be avoided.
    In the case of a horse bitten in the head, with the vet a long way away, lengths of ordinary garden hose inserted in the nostrils BEFORE they swell closed can save a life. I’m told horses can’t breathe effectively through their mouths.

     
  24. Diane

    June 16, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    My horse got bit under the jaw by a Rattlesnake in South Dakota several years ago. No treatment for him either, we just watched his swelling to make sure it didn’t obstruct his airway. Swelling was gone in a couple days….but he had a healthy respect for rattlesnakes after that!

     
  25. Gail B

    June 16, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    The horse is too large to Die from the Snake bite, how ever the real danger lies with the swelling and possible suffocation. I know somebody that treated a 2 yr old a few years back that had been bitten by a Diamond Back Rattle snake with great success they used Dexamethasone and antibiotics… good luck to you both.

     
  26. Wendy Lamoreaux

    June 16, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    We have a ranch in the mountains and do get rattlesnakes up there. We have come across a number of them while riding the horses or hiking. We have lost several good sized calves over the years to snake bites. Their muzzles will swell up so that they cannot nurse and I doubt they could swallow either because of the swelling. Each time this has happened it has been too late by the time they are found to do anything for them. This is mountain ground and you just do not see each cow and calf on a daily basis.

    Years ago we did have one of the larger horses get bit on the muzzle. His muzzle ended up larger than the top of his head. His tongue was very swollen and just hung out of his mouth. He had to be on IVs for quite some time, but, fortunately this one did survive.

    In our experience, if the horses see the snakes they know to stay away from them! And despite what anyone will tell you, they do not always give a warning rattle. I, personally, have actually had one chase me. That was NOT fun. Some are more aggressive than others! Sometimes they inject more or less venom. And as with bees, mosquitoes, etc different people and different animals can have greater or lesser reactions. Of course they camouflage VERY well. I have nearly stepped on a number of them and had one time when my horse just dead stopped and did not move!!! I looked down to see a large rattlesnake right under the horse. His head was well on the right side and the tail way to the left side. It, thankfully, was an unusually cool day and the snake could not move so fast as normal. The horse was literally holding his breath and did not move a single foot until that snake was over 15 feet away!

    At any rate, I hate rattlesnakes!!!!!!! I take them VERY seriously. We have even had a family member bit by one while he was HANDLING it. :(!?!

    I would make sure that a vet knows to be on call if you run into more troubles and they have to get it on IVs. Hopefully, all will go well for you!

    Sincerely,
    Wendy

     
  27. Deb

    June 16, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    The first thing while traveling in snake country I learned about horses and snake bites especially to their face is if you have nothing else, use a toilet paper or paper towel tube and put it in their nostrils so when they swell up they can still breath through their nose.

     
  28. Kate Butterworth

    June 16, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    I am in queensland australia, I have kennels with 30 dogs, snakes are common here, they like to rub old skin off on the fences and they chase the mice that re aound for the spilt bikkies and grain. Most avoid the dogs, but often we find a dead snake in the yards. On the dogs a spider bite will make them swell up too. Imitating a bull terrier nose I say. Swelling goes down from spider in 24 – 48 hrs. Try feeding some charcoal in the affected horses food. It binds the poison and allows horse to pass through the system as waste urine.

     
  29. Kimberly Hancock

    June 16, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I assume they know it was a venomous snake? I know you have rattlesnakes down in Texas, so do they think that is what bit Hope?

     
  30. Jo Anne Ekhoff

    June 16, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    I had a two year old TB gelding stand on a rattle snake in the late 1980″s. He made a full recovery but his bite was on a front leg. My old vet used DMSO. I had used a suction snake bite kit and flushed the bite with Water for the half hour or so it took the vet to get there, He said the best thing was to keep the wound open and bleed out as much of the poison as possible. The colt healed very fast was never lame but he was a bit stiff for the first two days. You could barely tell anything happened to him as we never let the swelling get out of control. The snake we found dead with a hoof print a few days later in the next empty pasture from where the colt had been. I never saw a live rattle snake before or after that and I owned that
    farm in California for 15 years.

     
  31. Anne P Hocker

    June 16, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    I had a 125 lb labrador bitten in the face by a copperhead. His nose and face really swelled up and he was in danger of airway blockage. Our vet did not administer anti-venom, but treated for swelling, bacterial infection and shock. Perhaps it was not a full-venom bite. He recovered nicely but without treatment it might have been a different story. in Arizona you have the Mojave rattlers which have neurotoxins in their venom and they are really bad news. Hoping yours was a “dry bite,” and supportive care will take care of it, but it is serious stuff. Prayers and good wishes for a complete recovery, and if there was a warning rattle, your mare now knows what it means.

     
  32. Mary Bieganski

    June 16, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Keeping pieces of hose around is a good idea. You put it in their nose to help keep airways open until the vet can get there

     
  33. Debbie

    June 16, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I had a snake bite one of my mares under the jaw and her heard swoll to the point we had to cut the halter off. We gave her anti inflammatory drugs and antibiotics. I packed the bite with salt and changed the dressing daily. Within two weeks you couldn’t tell she had ever been bitten.

     
  34. Sally Crofoot

    June 16, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    I can imagine how you feel. Prayers for Hopes quick recovery and also for you as you wait for this swelling to go down and she gets better.

     
  35. Richard Hall

    June 16, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Hi Stacey, I live in the foothills near Fresno Ca. Rattlesnakes are very common. I’ve had two horses bit through the years. My vet who is near me told me to let the horse heal on her own. One horse was bit on the nose the second on the leg. Both horses healed just fine with no medical attention what so ever. I’m not one to not take care of my horses, but I trust my vet. Good Luck.

     
  36. Nancy

    June 16, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    If you have any Hay stored in the barn or on something off the ground snakes like to hide in hay it keeps them shaded and cool if you have bull snakes don’t kill them the will ride your place of other snakes and rats. In Texas Bull Snakes are your friend.

     
  37. Nancy Jones

    June 16, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    So sorry to hear about a snake bite. We had a rattlesnake deliver her eggs in our barn and it was pretty unnerving to find baby rattlers in the isle way. I am so glad that your horse is not having any major complications, that is a blessing. Prayers sent.

     
  38. Kitty

    June 16, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    True, horses can’t breathe through their mouths. I’ve also heard to use some cut off pieces of garden hose to keep the airways open if swelling in the nose and nasal passages starts.

     
  39. Denise

    June 16, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Stacy I hope she gets to feeling better soon. We live in the country and we had 33 snakes in one yr at our house. We live on the Neuse River in NC and have a creek on both sides of us. We have been lucky that our horses haven’t come in contact with any of them. I have prayers sent for her.

     
  40. txtami

    June 16, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Sorry to hear this happened – expect snakes to be anywhere/everywhere in Texas. Did you see the pics of the snakes under the saddle cantles- not noticed until AFTER tacking the horses.

     
  41. Stephen NHelen Haddon

    June 16, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    In Australia the CRIO.uses horses in the aid of getting antiveniom.by injecting small amounts of snake veniom,the horse builds up a amuion.which they withdraw from the horse and useeee as antiveniom.Hope your horse has had a small dose and is well soon.

     
  42. txtami

    June 16, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    Also, guinea hens will kill venomous snakes.

     
  43. Reb

    June 16, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Sending prayers for a speedy and healthy recovery. So sorry to hear of Hope’s accident!

     
  44. Daune Brown

    June 16, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    TY FOR SHARING SO OTHERS LEARN I APPRECIATE THIS TY

     
  45. Tracy Johnson

    June 16, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Hi Stacy, Sorry to hear about Hope gotten bitten by a snake, how many types of snake are in your area of Texas? Hope is in my prayers tonight and i am sure she will make a speedy recovery. love and attention and the right medicine should be all the doctor ordered. Give Hope a hug from me Bless her.

     
  46. Becky Elliott

    June 16, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Sorry to tell you this, but the swelling is likely to get much worse. We are in Colorado, lots of snakes here, and we had a yearling filly get bit. The initial swelling wasn’t too awful, but a few days later, her face was really distorted, smelled awful and was in obvious distress. Our vet just recommended lots and lots of penicillin. It took a week, but she made it, I cried every day when I would look at her poor face.

     
  47. Diane

    June 16, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Make sure you keep her airway open. If you notice it is swelling closed, insert a hose (we use about 12″ of 3/4″ aquarium air hosing) into her nostril and tape it to her halter to avoid her pulling it out. Our customers use Biozide Gel on the wound and generally it takes care of itself. Good luck!

     
  48. Juanita

    June 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Your main concern will be her air passages through her nose. The swelling can close one or both nostrils. Other than that not too much you can do. Kitty above said you might have to cut off pieces of garden hose to keep the airways open. Or if you have some of that nice tubing from a vet, they are not so stiff, I would prefer that, but in a bind a garden hose will work. Good luck. I live in AZ and we have to deal with snakes all the time. I’ve had several dogs bit on the nose, but they can breathe through their mouths. Hope might be ok since she got bit on one side and not in the middle of her muzzle which might be more likely to close off both nostrils. Hopefully if just one closes and she can breath out of one until the swelling goes down she should be ok. My best wishes for you and your girl.

     
  49. Kathy Griesse

    June 16, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    We had two yearlings that were bitten just this morning. It’s almost an annual occurrence with our young horses here in NW Nebraska. We treat with 5 days of Banamine to help with pain and swelling. Also treat with penicillin for 3 days. They are always bitten on the nose and even with the Banamine, the swelling can be substantial. So we keep them in the shade and as comfortable as possible.

     
  50. Cathy norred

    June 16, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    I remember a story about treating snake bite and they inserted plastic syringes in the nose to keep the nasal passages from swelling shut. As the swelling goes down the syringes just fall out on their own. Also, we have water moccasins and copperheads. A friends dog got bit on the foot and was treated with Benadryl and antibiotics. He is fine. Hope this helps.

     
  51. johanna

    June 16, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Sorry in advance for the long post, but you DID ask for articles and info 😉

    Speaking as a Small Animal Vet:

    Unfortunately, there is not one single answer to whether anti-venin is needed. There are also widely varying vet experiences and opinions about this. Whether a snake bite requires antivenin really depends on the snake species and how bad the bite is–ie amount of venom delivered, where the animal was bitten, and the size of the animal. Dry bites from pit vipers (i.e. no venom delivered) will not require antivenin. Some vets will not give anti-venin to Copperhead bites. Other snake envenomations may require antivenin for a successful outcome. Treatments and supportive care for swelling, infection, cardiovascular and blood parameter changes are necessary whether or not anti-venin is needed. In bad bites from very poisonous snake species, often anti-venin makes no difference to survival. I am aware that research is being done as to which blood findings or physical findings exactly are indicative of whether anti-venin is needed, but I don’t think the answer is clear cut– yet, anyway. Certainly using anti-venin doesn’t hurt in most cases, if you can get it and it’s financially feasible (and there are some really good new ones being produced as we speak), however there is always the potential for anaphylaxis /allergic reaction to the anti-venini itself! So not an easy answer..

    **[however see end of this response for a non-medical solution that is a great answer to living with animals and snakes]

    Here are the Abstracts of 2 research articles below, that you could look up and read for a little more info on snake bites and survival, morbidity (illness) and mortality (death) rates:

    1)
    Clinical findings associated with prairie rattlesnake bites in dogs: 100 cases (1989-1998)
    J Am Vet Med Assoc. June 2002;220(11):1675-80.
    Tim B Hackett1; Wayne E Wingfield; Elisa M Mazzaferro; Joanna S Benedetti
    1Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523, USA.
    Article Abstract

    OBJECTIVE: To identify clinically relevant variables and treatments for dogs bitten by prairie rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis viridis).

    DESIGN: Retrospective study.

    ANIMALS: 100 client-owned dogs.

    PROCEDURE: Records of dogs evaluated for rattlesnake envenomation from 1989 to 1998 were reviewed. Analysis was performed to test for significant associations among clinical variables or treatments and cell counts, costs, and duration of hospitalization.

    RESULTS: Most prairie rattlesnake bites occurred between May and September. Dogs were 3 months to 12 years old (median, 3.7 years); most were bitten on the head in the late afternoon. There was no sex predilection. Median time to evaluation was 1 hour (range, 15 minutes to 13 hours). Swelling in the area of the bite was the primary physical abnormality. Principal initial laboratory findings were echinocytosis, thrombocytopenia, leukocytosis, and prolonged activated clotting time. Ninety-four dogs were hospitalized; 48 were discharged the following day. Antimicrobials and crystalloid fluids, glucocorticoids, antihistamines, and antivenin administered i.v. were the most commonly used treatments. One dog died, and small dogs were hospitalized longer than large dogs. Antivenin administration was not significantly associated with duration of hospitalization but was associated with higher platelet counts after treatment and higher total hospital costs.

    CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Prairie rattlesnake envenomation in dogs is associated with high morbidity rate but low mortality rate. The efficacy of administration of antivenin for dogs with bites from this snake species is questionable.

    2)
    Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) envenomation of dogs: 31 cases (1982-2002)
    J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2005 Jan-Feb;41(1):22-33.
    Jonathan R Willey1; Michael Schaer
    1Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610.
    Companion Notes

    Article Abstract

    The medical records of 31 dogs treated for envenomation by the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) were reviewed. Twenty-four of 25 dogs that survived were hospitalized for an average of 4.3 days. The most common presenting signs were tachycardia, swelling/edema, depressed mentation, tachypnea, and bleeding puncture wounds. Thirteen (42%) of the 31 dogs were presented with or developed cardiac arrhythmias, predominantly ventricular premature contractions. Hematological disorders, including defibrination, elevated fibrin split products, hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, and prolonged clotting times, were recorded in 81% of the dogs. Polyvalent crotalid antivenin was administered (mean of 4.0 vials per dog) to 88% of the surviving dogs and 50% of the nonsurviving dogs.

    =============================================================

    **[As an aside for dogs (don’t know about this in horses, but maybe Stacy, you can figure this out!), what DOES seem to work/help prevent snakebites EXTREMELY WELL is snake aversion training. This is a process of training your dog with expert trainers to learn to avoid rattlesnakes. There are many different ways of providing snake aversion training, but the BEST ones I have seen actually use defanged and/or de-rattled snakes and allow the snake to strike at the dog (but not get bitten). The use of a shock collar is extremely important in this training. And it usually only takes once or maybe twice! Dogs learn the significance of the smell, movements, and sounds of snakes very quickly when this training is used and it can and does save the owners’ lives as well when the owner learns what their own dogs’ reactions are around snakes. Most good trainers will provide follow up training to make sure that it still works (since most dogs are not going to necessarily see rattlers on a regular basis to be reminded!). And before anyone is up in arms about the shock collar, think about getting bitten by a snake and the awful sequelae to that, vs getting shocked by the collar, which actually doesn’t hurt much, and works REALLY well.]

     
    • Lisa Kimbrell Hutchinson

      June 17, 2014 at 8:29 am

      Thanks for commenting. This is a ton of great information and explains many of the variables.

       
    • Stacy

      June 17, 2014 at 8:35 am

      I am learning a lot! It is very interesting. The people who own the ranch here in Texas were from CO. They were on the prairie and would have 8-10 bites a year. When he asked me if there was a lot of swelling I said…’you better look. I would say yes but I have no experience.’ When he looked he said it wasn’t one of the bad ones. Now that it has been 24 hours her nose never did come close to swelling shut or anything. Thankful-thankful-thankful…and well educated!

       
  52. Debbie Honeycutt

    June 16, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Apparently a bad year for snakes. Have had a water moccasin and a rattler in my yard this week. Rattler bit a dog. Vet gave him Benadryl. My gelding was bitten under the neck by a water moccasin which was nasty. It swelled badly and he was given an antibiotic for the infection. Snakes are bad!

     
  53. Kevin

    June 16, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I had a mare with athree week foal that was bitten by a Gwarda (western Australia, very deadly) we gave her anti venom and lots of water laced with molassis, we never did find the exact spot she was bitten, she went through lots of stages including staggering and then walking with a very heightend step with her back legs eventually the staggers stopped and after 6 hours we left her lying down with molassis water nearby and waited to see. the next morning she was pretty much back to normal although a little sluggish. interestingly enough even though there were traces of poison in her system when we had her bloods tested it did not effect the foal in any way.

     
    • Stacy

      June 17, 2014 at 8:29 am

      That is very interesting. I talked with a lady who had a mare that was bitten four months before the foal was born. It was born blind and they were not sure if it was the bite or the treatments that had caused it.

       
  54. Mindy Kelly

    June 16, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Stacy watch your feed the snake could have been snuggled down inside the feed when it was put out.

     
  55. Sara Schultz

    June 16, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Prayers for your mare

     
  56. patsy main

    June 16, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    prayers for your horse and you

     
  57. danceswithwools

    June 16, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    At over $5000/vial, it’s no wonder it’s rarely used. In 25 years of practicing veterinary medicine, we’ve had ONE client choose this option. Their large dog required 2 vials. I can only imagine how many vials a horse would require.

    Anti-venin has an extremely short shelf-life, and is made from actual venom “milked” from live snakes. Some exciting work is being done with synthetic anti-venins which will, hopefully, be less expensive, more available, more effective, less dangerous, etc.

    I see another DVM has posted a comment with a ton of great info, so I won’t go there, but I thought I’d share our hospital’s anecdote.

     
    • Stacy

      June 17, 2014 at 8:26 am

      The one good thing about all of this is everything I am learning!

       
  58. Joann Nichols Laughlin

    June 17, 2014 at 12:21 am

    I haven’t had a horse bitten but my dog Lady, was bitten by a copperhead. Had the snake not gotten her, which she saw before I did, It would have bitten me. The vet gave her a shot of Benedryl and a steroid shot and told me to watch her for 2-3 days for any other side effects. Her paw was really sore and it was hard for her to walk but after a few days, she was fine!
    When you say there are no places for the snakes to hide, well, I can see plenty. Look at the trees. Most snakes will climb, and what better time of year than when there is an abundant food source, baby birds! They are hatching now and the snakes know it. So instead of looking down, try looking up. Only because I once had a snake fall out of a tree right in front of me!

     
  59. Dana Oyler

    June 17, 2014 at 12:34 am

    Prayers throughout the night for Hope. Snakes are a big concern here in the central San Joaquin Valley of California. Our foothills are rattlesnake haven. Have dealt with horses and cattle being bitten. Scary situation and I did a lot of praying. It helped every time.

     
  60. Marie

    June 17, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Hi Stacy, without the risk of sounding like a crack pot , you could try using injectable vitamin C. It’s good at ridding the body of toxins and the type of toxin is immaterial. To cut a long story short, I’ve used it extensively in lots of treatments over the past few years when I found out about it, with great results. You can give it in massive doses without risk of poisoning as it is water soluble and excess with be passed out of the body. You could try 1 X 20 mil or cc ( not sure of US measurement) three times a day for a few days until the swelling subsides then reduce the number of injections but keep up the treatment for at least a couple of weeks until the toxins are gone. Hope that helps

     
    • Stacy

      June 17, 2014 at 8:24 am

      Several people have mentioned this, I will have to look at adding it to my first-aid kit.

       
    • Janette

      June 17, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      Yes, vitamin C injectable is good to have in your first aid kit. A vet friend of mine (who is not really open to alternative medicine) has seen vitamin C help dogs survive some deadly Australian snake bites.
      Best wishes, I hope your mare is ok.

       
  61. Heather Taft

    June 17, 2014 at 1:33 am

    my mare was bitten as a yearling/2yr old. It was kind of under the cheek. Our horses run out in a pasture, so it wasn’t shocking. We called the vet as soon as we could and followed his directions. We lanced the wound, drained it, flushed it with iodine and she got a shot of antibiotic/anti-inflammatory. We drained and flushed it for several days. It was pretty hard to deal with her, but she came out of it fine and is a wonderful all around horse now. She will spook at a snake but won’t panic, remarkably.

     
  62. Carmelita

    June 17, 2014 at 2:41 am

    Our prayers are with you & I will put in a prayer request 2morrow nite @ our Tuesday evening services… Pray she is ok! Please keep us posted… Be blessed…

     
  63. Annie Gass

    June 17, 2014 at 2:51 am

    DO NOT TRY AVERSION TRAINING WITH YOUR HORSE!!!!!!! An animal weighing 1000+ pounds that panics can and will seriously injure or kill itself and/or others. This panic could occur during training just as easily as afterward. I would prefer my horse to stand and be bitten rather than wheel away and go over the side of the cliff! Snakebite I can treat – a 300-ft. fall onto jumbled rock I can’t!

    Admittedly, it works well with dogs, including my own, and I DO recommend it for them, and for cats, too! Also, consider using photos and recorded sound to educate yourself AND YOUR CHILDREN!!!! And stay alert! All the venomous snakes in the U.S. except the coral snake have very good camouflage and often lie on or near trails which may bring prey to them. A rattlesnake cannot be depended on to warn before striking!

     
  64. Deb Pierson

    June 17, 2014 at 3:22 am

    Guess the snake didn’t know he wasn’t following his natural instincts. Lol. seriously though I hope the horse recovers and does well.

     
  65. Sherri VanTassel

    June 17, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Prayers sent your way and thanks for sharing the information. I assumed that anti-venom was standard practice….

     
  66. Patricia Nichols Coins

    June 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Stacy, A few years ago my Arabian mare was bitten by a copperhead under her jowl on the bone. It took over a year to get it healed up. In the process she lost her back teeth from the bone decay. She did grow new bone and healed up without a disfigurement. But for a very long time it was touch and go. I pray that your mare will be better soon. I would think a vet would have placed a tube in the noise to prevent the air way being stopped up from the swelling. Around here the vet will do that with a snake bite. Prayers for you all and please stay safe.

     
  67. Teresa Priester

    June 17, 2014 at 10:48 am

    While living in Southern Idaho, we had horses and riders that would get bit by snakes that would climb up in the trees and tall sage brush, trying to get away from the sun. I see you have some trees in your paddock, would keep an eye out in them for the creepy crawly critters.

     
    • Stacy

      June 17, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh! You’re going to give me nightmares!

       
      • Peggy Walton

        June 17, 2014 at 10:45 pm

        I had a golden retriever bit on the top of his head by a rattlesnake. Because it wasn’t a vascular area he just had major swelling of his head and neck which was treated by lasix and steroids. Touch and go for awhile. It depends on where the bite is- in vascular areas there may be sloughing of tissues which will make healing more difficult. Good thing you got it figured out as quickly as you did! Hope your sweet guy heals well!

         
  68. Brittany

    June 17, 2014 at 11:36 am

    In the hill country, new braunsfels, canyon lake etc they reccomend rattle snake vaccines. May be worth checking into

     
  69. Sallye

    June 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Stacy, our Scottie was bitten in the same area as your horse about a month ago. She swelled up under the jaw and along her neck line. Took her to the Vet, and he gave meds for infection and swelling. Vet told us that since there is only one tooth mark in the nose more than likely was not a rattler. Vet said that anything venomous would have seen more swelling and two bite marks. The fact that our girl had been given snake shot helped. Saw a marked improvement within 48 hours of starting meds. Hope this helps.

     
  70. Elsie Woodward

    June 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Might have missed it in all of the comments but has no one recommended DMSO? It works. Have used it successfully on copperhead bites on three different dogs. It will certainly help the swelling.

     
  71. Lou Ann Taylor

    June 23, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    My horse got stung by a wasp on her face that really had a lot of swelling. Vet gave her Banamine just to ensure her airways were good. Can’t even imagine a snake bite!! Best wishes and good thoughts all coming your way!!

     

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