It was a very full day today. I had just gotten back from taking Andy, one of my oldest goats, to the vet's when Ron called to me that there was something wrong with Sadie. I rushed over to see a huge swelling blooming on the left side of her face. We turned right around and headed back to the vet. Sure enough, my diagnosis agreed with the vet's - snake bite.
This is the first time Sadie has been bitten by a snake but it's also the first time any dog of mine has been bitten. I was concerned but not frantic which turned out to be the correct reaction. The vet verified that it was a snakebite, probably a copperhead, and gave Sadie a shot that included an antibiotic, a hefty dose of steroids and an equally significant dose of antihistamine. We should expect the swelling to increase this evening but begin to decrease over night and she should look pretty much normal by tomorrow afternoon with all the swelling gone by the next afternoon. She will be lethargic but we should be able to wake her up at any point during the night. She'll be on antibiotics for 10 days - apparently snakes have pretty dirty mouths and infections unrelated to the venom are common.
Here are some interesting things I learned from the vet about snake bites. He treats 4 or 5 snake-bit dogs per day during the spring when the temperature warms up. There are some places south of Columbus where the copperheads are so common you can't walk more than 20 yards across the pasture without finding one. This is the same kind of information as the fact that we live in "rabies central" for Colorado County - not included by any Realtor on the information sheet for a property. The vast majority of snakebite victims are dogs and very few are cats. Dogs almost always get bit on the face, neck or front paws. When they get bit, cats almost always get bit on the back end because they figure out the danger faster than a dog and are in the process of jumping away from the snake when it strikes.
So Sadie will be fine and so will we. Ron was out walking around in the ferns earlier today looking for some toys that Sadie has lost. That's were the snakes are but he was thinking it was still too cool out for there to be any danger. That assumption was wrong so we will all try to stay out of the ferns till next winter.
More about Andy's trip to the vet tomorrow.