This is Millie, though she’s not our dog, she and Mr F have a very special friendship, and she’s vacationed with us a few times when her parents have gone on holiday, so we can tell you she’s the cutest, sweetest little dog, who seems so human when she looks up at you with her big placid eyes, but she’s an amazingly fast little hunter who can sniff out and catch bunnies, voles, skunks, squirrels, and even snakes.
Last Thursday morning while Millie was out walking with her Mom, Debbie in Franklin Canyon, (a popular place to hike with leashed dogs, on the hill where Mulholland Drive meets Cold Water Canyon), she was bitten by a rattlesnake.
Ohmygod… Luckily Debbie didn’t panic or stand helplessly wringing her hands weeping or screaming as I would’ve done, but knew to rush the badly swollen dog to the emergency hospital, getting her there within half-an-hour of the bite. They kept Millie overnight, and sent her home the next day. We haven’t seen her, but I heard she’s recovered well, and the swelling’s back to normal.
There are rattlesnake warning signs at all the canyons in Southern California, which most of us ignore (including yours truly). I’m darn sure not many of us would know what to do if a snake should bite our pet.
Mr F asked Debbie, who gave him this advice:
- Carry the dog. Do NOT let him/her walk
- Identify the snake if you can
- Get to the nearest emergency vet that has the serum (Not all of them do!)
- Call the vet to let them know you’re on your way in, and that a rattlesnake bit your dog.
- Speed is of the essence. The serum is stored frozen and has to be thawed to use, so advance identification of the snake and the location of the bite (it was her nose) are really critical!
- The amount of venom delivered varies by the season, by age and by size of the snake
I just realized, I have no idea what to do if a rattlesnake bites a human.
A few emergency treatment tips on snake bites (excerpted from Mother Nature)
- Remain calm.
- Try to identify the snake.
- If you’re alone when you’re bitten, walk, DON’T RUN (the faster you move, the harder your muscles work, which will speed up the venom moving into your circulation).
- Keep the area of the bite below heart level (when you’re seated).
- Never mark Xs on the bite with a razor blade, or try to suck out the venom. “You can really hurt yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
- Soaking a bitten hand or foot in a bucket of ice water usually does more harm than good, and could even cause frostbite, because for example, pit-viper venom makes tissues very temperature-sensitive.
- Forget about tourniquets, they can cause serious injury “if you don’t know what you’re doing”.