Rattlesnakes and Dogs don’t Mix – Snakebit dog

Timber Rattler, Madison county AR
Timber Rattlesnake

They’re not aggressive. Really.

This one just wanted to be left alone. It’s the second one I’d encountered that week, and both were relatively calm. Badger even stepped on the first one and didn’t notice until after doing it. The snake didn’t bite, just coiled up and started rattling.

This one took a long time before expending the effort to make any noise, but Turbo wouldn’t leave it alone.

Finally it struck. Turbo hopped back and I thought he’d dodged successfully. He didn’t yelp or give any sign of pain.

I figured we’d better leave before one of us did get bitten because Turbo wouldn’t stay back and the snake was becoming agitated now.

So I went back to the house and after a few hours I went outside to feed the horses.

In my peripheral I could see Turbo coming up to the gate where he normally catches up with me during feeding chores. But I could tell something was wrong. He was moving very, very slowly.

Turbo is named turbo, well, because he’s always moving around in turbo speed. His slow movement was a strong visual cue that something was wrong.

When I turned to get a look at him, I knew right away exactly what was wrong. I had a snakebit dog. His face was swollen tremendously. The snake had not missed after all.

He let me inspect him and a little bit of blood oozing from two neat puncture wounds on his snout. It was the part of his lips that cover the upper canine teeth.

This was on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday – day of bite

The first thing I did was bring him inside and put him in the kennel so he wouldn’t walk around too much. Most of all, I didn’t want him to run off and lie low for a few days, which is what seems to be the thing dogs do when they’re bitten like that.

Next thing was to give him 2 benedryl capsules, adult strength. Turbo weighs about 60  pounds.

After that I gave him about 4 teaspoons of turmeric, mixed with egg and a little bacon grease. He ate it, but not enthusiastically. He slept most of the evening and all night.

Monday – day 2

He still looked awful. That morning he felt awful too but wanted to come into the kitchen and lie on the cool terra cotta tiles. By that afternoon he felt better because when I dropped a potato on the floor, he grabbed it and wouldn’t let me have it back. He carried it over to his spot and guarded it while he rested. Here’s some pics from Monday.

I continued to give him the turmeric and also in his drinking water I gave him cleavers and spilanthes. Cleavers is good for helping the body to eliminate lymphatic fluid, spilanthes is an immune stimulating herb from the tropical countries.

Ordinarily I like to use what grows locally, but the research on turmeric for snake bite (in Middle Eastern countries) was impressive. I knew of nothing else that might work as well. Turmeric is one herb I do keep in stock, even though it’s not a local. Same with spilanthes, although I haven’t had any for more than a decade now. That tincture is some I had made more than a decade ago when I still lived in south Louisiana. Now I’m out of it and will have to try to grow the spilanthes here. Cleavers is a local herb.

Turbo wouldn’t eat the turmeric in eggs, or in any other way I tried. Finally, I resorted to making little bitty pancakes with a teaspoon added to the top of each pancake. Then I folded the pancake over to seal it in there. He gobbled those up like treats. I gave him about 4-6 tsp every 4 hours. I gave him 2 dropperfulls of cleavers/spilanthes tincture in his water bowl (approx 2 cups) each time I filled it. He drank several bowls of water during a day’s time.

Tuesday – day 3

Turbo wanted to go outside to run and play. He felt completely better and looked a lot better too. Most of the swelling had gone down. We got a serious flood Monday night and on Tuesday he was swimming in the water and running around normally. I quit giving him the herbs on this day.

Snakebit dog 3 days later after treatment with turmeric.
Feeling MUCH better!

Wednesday – day 4

I don’t have any photos of him on this day, but his swelling was completely gone. The bite area never abscessed or had necrosis. You couldn’t even tell he’d been bitten except that the bite itself was still visible.

Summary

If I’m ever bitten by a rattlesnake, there are a few things I’ll do before getting to the hospital. Take benedryl, take as much Vitamin C as I can tolerate. (Dogs and other mammal livers produce their Vitamin C and increase production of it when they are facing toxins like snake or spider venom. Humans can’t do that.) And take turmeric and cleavers/spilanthes.

Your Experiences with Rattlesnake Bites?

If you’ve ever been bitten or treated a dog that was bitten, or brought one to the vet for snakebite, I’d love to hear how it progressed compared to this. Maybe Turbo just didn’t get a lot of venom. His swelling the first day seemed to be fairly bad, though, and he felt poorly enough to think he was pretty sick from it. But the only thing I have to compare it to are my other dogs who laid up a few days after being bitten and so I didn’t get to treat them right after it happened.

Those dogs always developed abscesses that drained about a week later. One dog lost a toe, which regrew later without the toe nail or bone, but at least filled in the space with what looked like a toe.



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here:
    Nonfiction: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.
    Fiction: Ima Erthwitch Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

4 Replies to “Rattlesnakes and Dogs don’t Mix – Snakebit dog”

  1. A friend of mine said a Cherokee friend said use charcoal and plantain. Swirl a tablespoon activated charcoal in a glass of water and drink it to absorb the toxin. Also use a charcoal poultice on the bite. Drink plantain leaf tea. Also a plantain poultice on the bite.

    1. Thanks Pamela. I’ll add that to my list of possible remedies. The turmeric did an outstanding job, and if I have it on hand next time, that’s probably what I’ll use again. But since that herb doesn’t grow here, I like to know options using plants that do. I wonder what kind of wood makes the best charcoal if I had to make that myself too?

Info or feedback to share?