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The Dachshund & the Rattlesnake

Recently it seems like my Facebook page is filled with rattlesnake stories from killing one to a pet being bitten by one. We have seen a dramatic increase of snake bite dogs at Garza County Animal Hospital over the last few weeks. They are out in plenty after these recent rains so be careful! In fact, one of these cases happened at my own home.

At 3:45am I was awakened by two obnoxiously loud dogs barking non-stop right under my bedroom window. Yes, I love my dogs, but any dog that wakes you from a deep slumber is obnoxious! I climb out of bed, pull on my boots, and grab a flashlight. Living in the country we always keep a hoe by the front door. So, I grab the hoe and walk around to the barking dogs. I could hear an angry rattler once I rounded the corner.

Now picture this….I’m in my pj bottoms, wearing boots, and holding both the flashlight and hoe in the same hand. When the hoe was raised, so was the flashlight. Hoe up=snake disappearing from sight. I’ll admit it took me a few attempts in the dark, but finally that snake was taken care of. I look over my 2 dogs, and see my old Australian Shepard, Boots, has been bit on the nose. We took him to the clinic immediately and started treatment. Boots recovered faster than expected, and I can only think of two explanations. One, the bite was a “dry bite” from the snake just giving a warning. Or two, we’ve always given our dogs the Rattlesnake vaccine and since Boots was current, maybe this helped with a speedy recovery. We may never know.

Despite all the snake stories I am seeing recently, there is one which I will never forget for the rest of my life. It actually happened to one of my clients back in my early years at Garza Co. Animal Hospital. It was summer time and a client of mine was dog-sitting while a friend was on vacation. The dog sitter found a rattlesnake in the front yard. At this time all of the dogs were in the house, so the dog sitter left the snake to go inside to retrieve his shot gun. He went outside, shot the snake, and, missing the head by about 12 inches, blew it half. The visiting dachshund managed to escape out the front door, and before the sitter could catch him, it ran right next to rattlesnake. The snake was able to strike and bite the dog on the dog’s ribcage. Keep in mind, it had been shot already, but was still able to strike. This is where the old saying of burying the head of the rattlesnake is very true. A snake will still try to bite something several minutes after it is considered “dead”. In my experience dealing with snake bit animals, bites on the body have worse outcomes than those bit on the head. This poor dachshund was an example of this. The dog sitter rushed the dog to my clinic, but unfortunately the dog passed away about an hour later

If you notice your pet has been bitten by a rattlesnake, get veterinary help immediately. With all the snakes being killed in town, I strongly encourage not only my country clients, but also those who live in town to give their pets the rattlesnake vaccine. If we can help you in anyway please give Garza County Animal Hospital a call at 806-495-3726.