Ok, for all of you guys that have wondered about getting your dogs vaccinated for rattlesnakes with the new vaccine, I can personally recommend it as my 20 month old GSP got bit this past Sunday while out doing some training work. We aren’t sure what kind of snake got him, but after the vet looked at him, he said he was 100% positive that he was bitten by a venomous snake. I got him vaccinated in August of this year from Camp Bowie Animal Clinic in Fort Worth. The vet that looked at him(the one closest to my house, that I don’t normally use) said that he has never seen a dog recover from a snake bite as fast as mine did. There was no tissue damage at all which he said was the most shocking thing of all.
We were working 4 shorthairs over some planted birds and shooting a dummy around a pond. The pond only had 1-2’ of water and mud in it and the dogs were running through the muck up and over a dam and getting the dummy from behind it. On one shot, the dummy landed right at the edge of the water and my GSP grabbed it but then jumped up with his paw in the air like he hurt it. He limped only a short distance and shook it off and came on in. I inspected his foot but didn’t really see any signs of a cut, etc… I was looking more at the bottom of his foot and at his pads. He ran for another 45 minutes or so without any signs of favoring the leg and I blew it off as a twist or a sprain.
After getting home, I bathed him and he slept on the back patio for about 2 hours and when he got up… he could not put any pressure on the foot. I gave him an aspirin and the foot and leg continued to swell all the way up to his knee. I decided to watch it for a day mainly because it was Sunday evening and I didn’t have much choice. He was real lethargic and wouldn’t eat. He slept all night and most of Monday also. The swelling was so bad in his paw that his outside toes pointed straight out to the sides. By Tuesday, the swelling had basically gone down and he was starting to walk on it again, He still had a large swollen spot on the top of his paw and a puncture wound was starting to become visible. By Wednesday, he was back on all fours and looked fine but I decided to take him in because the bite site had a fluid build up and I was concerned about an abscess from infection.
The vet drained the spot on his foot and said that it was only clear/bloodstained fluid and showed no signs of infection whatsoever and he didn’t even think it was necessary that we put him on antibiotics. Needless to say, the vet and his nurse were floored and wanted to know all about where I got the shots, how much, how often, etc…. The vet said that he didn’t know much about the vaccine, but had treated plenty of snake bites and this was probably the best thing that you can do for a dog that is exposed to any kind of area that could have snakes and that he will start promoting it to all his patient’s owners now.
Last night, I had him out running him and he is as good as new!! If you haven’t done it, DO IT. It cost me $30 to get him vaccinated and $25 Wednesday to get his foot drained. The vet said it can cost in the neighborhood of $1000 to treat a dog for a snake bite with anti venom and from the associated tissue damage and infections and it usually results in permanent damage.
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