Hi Everyone, I have asked one of my buddies (Dougal) to have his human write a special precautionary article about Snake Bites. I know many of you don't live in our area, but I bet you have dangerous critters where you live too.
Last Saturday, my girlfriend, her mini dachshund Weena, Dougal, and
myself were going for a walk along the shoreline trail on the North side
of the canyon. We had a nice walk and were returning to our car (parked
at the Douglas Street Trail head). On the way back to the car, about 10
feet from the parking lot, my dog Dougal was bit by a rattlesnake.
I wanted to tell the story of what happened so that everyone knows the
danger that exists along the trails here in Ogden...and also so that you
know the extent of damage that a rattlesnake bite can cause.
Here's what happened...Dougal was running up ahead of us (as he usually
does when he sees the car) and he ran right on top of the snake. It
didn't rattle or warn him before striking. In fact, i didn't even know
that he was bitten at first. He acted startled and limped back to me.
I thought he stepped on a thorn. We walked a few more feet and saw the
It coiled up and rattled. Weena was only a few feet away from it.
Thankfully, she wasn't bit. She is a 10lb dog and wouldn't have
survived. We quickly gathered the dogs close to us and walked around
the snake. It was right in the middle of the walking path, near the
trail head information sign. This is in the midst of several houses on
both sides of the trail head cul de sac.
The first thing i noticed was how big the snake was. It was between 4
and 5 feet long. It's rattle was about 2 or 3 inches long. Below the
rattle, it had black bands around its tail. In researching things
later, i learned that this was a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. They
aren't supposed to live this far north. The puncture marks on Dougal's
leg are about 2 inches apart. This shows how large the snake's head
was. Most rattlers in this area are Great Basin Rattlesnakes. Their
venom is not as toxic and they rarely grow beyond 2 or 3 feet in length.
We quickly rushed Dougal to the E.R. in Sunset. We had him there within
20 minutes. They administered anti-venom within 30 or 40 minutes of the
attack. Dougal's leg began to swell and bleed on the way to the vet.
It was obvious that he was in great pain, but he didn't lose muscle faculty.
We spent a few hours at the ER and made the arrangements for him to stay
overnight. They used one vile of anti-venom and kept him on a constant
drip I.V. to pump as much fluid into him as possible. Antibiotics were
injected as well. The wound would not coagulate. So this needed to be
monitored too. The ER conducted several blood tests to make sure that
his blood was strong overall.
Dougal stayed at the ER for two nights. When i picked him up, he was
extremely groggy. He threw up a greenish liquid a few times as soon as
he tried to walk. Once released from the ER, we went directly to my
normal vet in Ogden (Burch Creek Animal Clinic). The ER called ahead so
they were expecting us.
Burch Creek wanted to keep Dougal there for the day to continue I.V.
fluids and antibiotics. They also used laser treatment on his leg to
fight the swelling and promote healing. He returned there again for
another full day of the same treatment. Burch Creek provided pain
medicine and oral antibiotics for me to give Dougal at home. By this
point, it was apparent that the bite would not be fatal, but severe
tissue damage had occurred. Dougal has been on the rattlesnake vaccine
for a year now. This vaccine does not prevent the effects of a bite,
but can slow down the venom enough to make recovery more likely.
By the 3rd or 4th day, the swelling of his leg had reduced considerably.
However, he was very swollen in the chest and stomach areas. He had a
massive "pouch" of liquid dangling below him. His chest was bruised
from this and black in color.
By the 5th or 6th day, the swelling had begun to subside. The wound
itself stopped bleeding and turned into a solid black scab that wrapped
around his arm like a wrist band. According to the vet, this black scab
will eventually fall off, leaving a hole in his flesh.
It has now been a week since the incident. Dougal's spirits are up and
he has energy again. He is eating and drinking like normal and does not
appear to be in much pain. Once the skin sloughs off, I will need to
take him to the vet immediately to be treated.
We have to wait for everything to fall off before deciding how to
proceed next. There will be two choices, getting a skin graft or
allowing the wound to heal on its own. There are pros and cons to each
and I am unsure what I will decide at this point.
I know that several of you have contacted Vickie regarding Dougal's
situation. We are very grateful for all of your thoughts and prayers.
In many ways, we were very lucky. Things could have been much worse.
Please be careful with your dogs in the foothills around the Wasatch
Front. I have been camping with Dougal out in the desert 50 miles from
civilization without any concerns. I never would have imagined this
could happen essentially in our own back yards.
In addition to the pain and suffering that Dougal has experienced, I
have already spent around $2500 to treat him. The anti-venom was around
$800 alone. If we go with the skin graft, it will be at least another
$2,000 in vet bills.
Thanks for reading all of this, and please be careful.
Jon and Dougal
Be safe everyone. We will keep you updated on Dougals progress as we get it.