in memory of Jack and his battle with the rattlesnake

Jack who died from a rattlesnake bite

This webpage is dedicated to Caralee's beloved dog Jack who died from a rattlesnake bite.

Hopefully one will learn how do you prevent your dog from being bitten from a rattlesnake if you live in an area where there are rattlesnakes and your dogs can be exposed to them or if you take your dogs hunting where there are rattlesnakes?
Caralee will detail how a dog is conditioned to prevent him/her from going near a rattlesnake in a rattlesnake avoidance training program.
Now there is a new dog vaccine by Red Rock Biologics’ for rattlesnake bites and the vaccine made from snake venom will be described so if your dog is bitten, there is a strong likelihood that it does not have to be fatal. The Sawyer Extractor will also be described which is an inexpensive pump which is easy to use and which as the name says extracts the poison from the bite wound. Speak to your vet about extracting snake venom as there have been negative articles about this method also.
There is also Snake Away which is EPA approved and researched by the University of Florida which is sprinkled on the ground to ward off snakes Research on snake away Dr. T's Nature Products, Inc. is exclusively a manufacturer of animal repellants, many of which are "unique to the world" and offer safer alternatives to poisons.
The better choice is to use hardware cloth about 18" up your fence, and partly buried in the ground, but that is very very expensive when you are looking at a couple acres (or more) fenced in for the dogs.
Caralee also found an article about the effective use of Vitamin C and snake bites Vitamin C and snake bitesThere are other articles on the web about Vitamin C and snake bites and the use of vitamin C but I could find no hard research that it really works.

More from Caralee:

"When I discovered the website about using Vitamin C for snakebite, I printed it out and took it to my vet. Yesterday when I was there on an unrelated trip, the first thing the vet tells me is that someone brought in their dog with what appeared to be snakebite. The dog was lethargic, her head had started to swell on day 2, etc. She kept the dog and watched as the head swelled. The lips were swollen and thick; despite the fact that the owners didn't think it was snakebite (and therefore she didn't give it anti-venin) the vet felt sure it was snakebite because nothing else presents with these symptoms. She couldn't find any puncture wounds, but felt perhaps the snake had gotten in just one fang, perhaps under the lip. She kept the dog on IV for another day, but the dog kept getting worse. Anyhow, the dog's face had a big swelling on one cheek; when the dog became agitated, the vet knew she had to do something or the dog was going to die. Remembering the article I gave her and we discussed, she put a massive dose of Vitamin C in the IV--about 10 grams I believe. WITHIN TWO HOURS, the swelling opened up, drained on its own, and the dog got immediately better and went home.

How about THAT!??? II am going to keep some sterile saline solution around and if I need to, I'm putting the powdered Vitamin C in it and injecting my dog FOR SURE if I can't get to the vet in a big hurry and request it from them. That, and anti-venin, of course.

But first a memorial for Jack who was bitten by a rattlesnake and died from the bite.

JUNE, 1993 - SEPTEMBER 21, 2004

I remember very well the day we adopted Jack. I had just been reading Vicki Hearne's great book Bandit: Dossier of A Dangerous Dog, which is about the American Pit Bull breed and how maligned it is in the media and court system. I really wanted to adopt a pit bull; they are loving, wonderful dogs who look exactly what I think a dog should look like. So when we were at PetSmart looking at (but not really shopping for) rescue dogs, there was Jack in a small cage. All I saw was his terrier face and I thought he was for sure at least a Pit mix. And then there were Jack's ears-one solid black, and the other white with little black spots. When we opened the cage and let him out, he was like a wound-up spring, jumping and kissing and nuzzling our necks. That was it-he was ours, and we were his. And anyway, we thought it would be nice for Bonnie to have a friend more her size, as all our other dogs were lots bigger than she is. We brought Jackie home and sure enough, when we introduced him to Bonnie, they zoomed in circles through the side yard, just having a blast. And the other dogs took to him just fine, too.

Jack was such a busy little dog. He cruised everywhere, never walking when he could trot or run. When you took him for a walk, even though he weighed only 35 lbs., he would pull you physically up any hill, no matter how long or steep. He came like lightning when you called him. We didn't teach him, that-he just thought maybe he would get some love or a cookie if he came. I can't remember ever seeing Jack really tired.

We always said that maybe we should have named him Braveheart. We knew that if a bear entered our yard, Jack would take him on (maybe he was channeling Pit Bull). So after we got here to Utah, and a rattlesnake hid under the stairs after a big rain, Jack got too close. We discovered the snake and moved it far from the house, but then noticed a swelling around Jack's lip. It was a Sunday morning, and since there are no emergency services in Kanab, and no one in Page was answering, we rushed him to Hurricane, 85 miles away. After getting help from a concerned person at the Chevron station, we roused a vet who, after teaching an hour-long Sunday school class, came and saw Jack. He declared that so long as the bite didn't kill Jack within the first 30 minutes, he would not die. He gave him morphine for the pain and a vial of antibiotics for later, and told us Jack would go through a hard time-but he would come through.

By Tuesday morning, Jack was stumbling, cold, and his lips and gums weren't pale; they were white. We rushed him to our vet, who wasn't open on Monday, but it was too late. Despite her heroic measures with blood transfusions, fluids, and more, his blood could no longer clot, and his kidneys were destroyed. While we watched, Jack had a seizure, went into a coma, and died.

Jack was a little bright light in every day. He sat perfectly straight and looked you right in the eye, and was quick to give kisses and hugs. He was kind to the cats, never chasing or threatening them. In fact, he was personally responsible for keeping their ears clean, and loved particularly to spend time with our cat Chance every evening. We were proud of him, and we were lucky to know him. His high spirit and love of life and love for everyone around him will never be forgotten. I wish there was a life lesson here, something precious to be gained from his death to make it more okay that he died the way he did, but I haven't found that yet. I do know that knowing Jack was pure fun, and while I'll know a lot of wonderful dogs, it will be rare to find one with Jack's special high-octane combination of joy, love, strength, bravery, and happy energy.

Snake Proofing conditioning
The dogs are now trained for staying away from snakes! It was amazing. They did learn their lesson. First, a rattlesnake (this one was a Western Diamondback) about 3 feet long was defanged (I learned they have several rows of fangs, and a new set will grow back in just a few days). The snake, who had a nice loud rattle, was put in a field, where he tended to stay put rather than slither away. Then each dog was put on a long leash and fitted with a shock collar. As the dog was walked in the field, he could hear the snake and smell it too. The exact moment the dog showed any interest in the snake, he was given a zap from the collar, which the professional trainer controls from a remote device. Typically, the dog will jump and scream and immediately you are to run the dog away from the snake and give him a lot of love and praise so he doesn't associate the shock with people. Then you did the same routine again, and if the dog again showed interest, another zap. My Max, Leah, and Hopi didn't need that second zap! Leah and Hopi are really sensitive dogs, and this was very scary for them--but also so necessary to their lives. After a little rest period, you do round two: the rattlesnake had its rattles taped so there would be no noise to attract the dog. The snake was moved to a new place in the field. The idea here is for the dog to show interest by smell only. Again, the moment the dog looked in the direction of the snake. alerting on its smell--zap! Last, the snake was put in a bag and again the dog was walked around it; if there was interest shown by the dog--zap! By this time most of the dogs, including mine, had wised up and the second they got a whiff of the snake they headed off in the opposite direction. It was clear and obvious they wanted nothing to do with that snake. I now have some confidence that my dogs won't go near a snake. Also we got the rattlesnake bite vaccine, so that too is a big load off my mind. How I wish Jackie could have had this same training!
Next spring the trainer will return and for free we can have the dogs checked again to make sure they retained the lesson.
Sawyer Extractor
The Extractor Pump For Removal of Poisons from snake bites, bee and wasp stings, mosquito bites & more "The Extractor Pump is the most effective method available for First-Aid treatment of bites from snakes, bees, scorpions, stingrays, mosquitoes, and other poisonous critters.
The Extractor Pump is safe yet powerful, effective and reusable.
The Extractor Pump is fast and easy to use, designed for one handed operation.
Does not require the use of dangerous scalpel blades
Does not require the cutting of bitten skin surfaces.
Click here for negative opinions of the Sawyer Extractor Pump.

Rattlesnake Vaccine from the manufacturer of the rattlesnake vaccine for dogs is Red Rock Biologics.
They write "Rattlesnakes live in a variety of habitats. They are found in wetlands, deserts and forests, from sea level to mountain elevations. Rattlesnakes are most active in warmer seasons, from Spring to Autumn. In southern latitudes they are occasionally found year-round." New rattlesnake vaccine"The purpose of the vaccine is to prevent the allergic reaction to the venom of the rattlesnake. It will not prevent an infection, local tissue reaction, or systemic infection. If the dog is bitten, after the dog has had the appropriate series of vaccines, then it is expected that the dog will only have to deal with the toxic effect of the venom and its damage to the tissues around the bite site. It should still be considered an emergency, and the dog should be taken to your veterinarian or the local veterinary emergency clinic.....After the snakebite, the vaccine-elicited antibody will combine with the injected venom to slow down systemic absorption, neutralize toxin activity, and thereby, lessen tissue injury and pain." According to the Red Rock Biologics’ product information sheets, “The severity of a rattlesnake envenomation (venom-injecting bite) is related to the species of rattlesnake involved, the amount of venom injected, the rate at which the venom reaches systemic circulation, and the size of the dog. In unvaccinated dogs, approximately 20 to 25 percent of venomous snakebites are “dry” bites – no venom is injected. An additional 30 to 40 percent of bites are classified as “mild,” reflecting minimal envenomation: pain and swelling are present, but there is little or no systemic (whole body) involvement. Another 30 to 40 percent of bites are “moderate” to “severe,” reflecting increasing degrees of systemic involvement. Roughly 5 percent of envenomations are fatal,” usually due to allergic reaction to the venom. “Vaccinated dogs appear to present with fewer and less severe symptoms than similar unvaccinated dogs. Thus, in many cases, what would have been a moderate to severe bite will present as a mild envenomation, with nonprogressive swelling and little or no pain.”

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department has some tips for if you live in a rattlesnake area.Wildlife and People
"If you live in an area where rattlesnakes are found or if you have an aversion to snakes in general, some simple habitat modification around your property will usually solve the problem.

Keep firewood in a covered box.

Do not landscape with expanses of large rocks, especially in open, sunny areas. Remove rocks, boards and debris.

Mow tall grass & weeds to make habitat less desirable for rodents, a major food source for snakes. Seal entrances to crawl spaces and basements.

If you encounter a rattlesnake, simply back off. The snake senses your presence by your body heat and movement. "