Saturday, September 02, 2017

Copperhead Bite After 48 Hours With Benadryl

Know the snakes in your area. 

This was a Copperhead bite, not a rattlesnake bite.

Copperheads leave a lot of swelling, but I can find no instance in which they have killed an otherwise healthy dog.

The protocol for a Copperhead bite is not to rush to a veterinarian, but to administer 2 mg of Benadryl for every pound of dog, and to repeat ever 12 hours. The dog should be taking water on its own within half a day or less, without any need for the IV fluids or expensive junk testing that vets love to provide even when not medically necessary.

A quick review of snakes and venom:  Most snakes have venom, even the constrictors, but most snakes have very little venom (it may only be a vestigial evolutionary holdover) or venom that only works on frogs and mice. Remember Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter? He had a lot of fun spoofing a TV audience with the "Ten Deadliest Snakes in the World," never mentioning that most of those snakes are only deadly to mice and frogs. Read more about that here.

Even with Rattlesnakes and dogs, as I have noted before, things are not always fatal. About 25 percent of rattlesnake bites are dry bites without any venom, and another 30 percent of all snake bites are injected with such a small amount of venom that, while there may be localized pain and swelling in the bite area, there is otherwise no serious problem. Of the remaining 45% of bites, 40% are severe, but only 5% of bites, at most, are actually fatal for the dog. A review of the scientific literature found only a 1% mortality for Prairie Rattlesnake bites.

Teddy Moritz writes me that:

A hawker in Florida has one of my dachshunds, an 8-lb dynamo. The dog was bitten by a Pygmy Rattler, in the leg, and the vets wanted $500 to $1,500 to treat the dog, with no guarantee it would survive! I suggested Benadryl and the guy kept the dog home, used the Benadryl, and a few days later the dog was fine.

A quick review of the literature tells me that, like a Copperhead, the bite of a Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius) is rarely serious beyond localized swelling. If it was my dog, I would follow the same Bendadryl protocol as for Copperheads, and which seems to be a standard response to Pygmy Rattlesnake bites in Florida. Teddy had better advice than the vet. Not surprising if you know Teddy!

Of course, a veterinarian will not tell you to go home and dose your dog with Benadryl after a Copperhead bite. As I noted in a previous post about the "Witch Doctor's burden" if you take your dog to a vet, he or she will charge you $80 for just walking through the door.

Before the dog has even seen a doctor, the "vet tech" will have your dog upcoded for liver enzyme tests, blood tests, urine tests, stool samples, and maybe a rabies vaccine. They will rush to put an IV bag on your dog even though it is not dehydrated and "the toxins" are not actually flushed out through urine.

In short, you will  be loaded with charges and still no treatment will have been provided. They will want to keep your dog overnight -- maybe two nights if they think they can get away with it.

And what will they actually do? They will give your dog Benadryl and then charge you a $1,000 or more for their bill padding and "concern trolling".

This kind of flutter is standard veterinary protocol these days, and it has nothing to do with actually providing veterinary care for your dog.

What's funny is that a lot of canine consumers are only too happy to play the game of shelling out a $1,000 or more for a dog that was "on Death's Door" until the "miraculous" Dr. Welby DVM "saved" little Tricky Woo.

In the telling of the story, their dog is a Brave And Intrepid Adventurer (and never mind if the bite was in the back yard), and they are the Willing To Pay Anything Owner (not the ignorant rube being hustled), and their vet is the Best Doctor in the Whole World (not a medicine man ripping off the panicked and ignorant natives).

In fact, the story told by the ripped off consumer is very good. It's much better than the one I am offering:  "I gave the dog Benadryl, and she was fine 24 hours later".  There's no drama attached to that story.  


I think I may have to work on Moxie's snake story.  In the interim, did I ever tell you about the time I got busted on a gun charge at the Orlando Airport?  True!  Buy me a coffee, and I'll tell you all about it....


Anonymous said...

You forgot to add your Coffee-Button ;-)

Unknown said...

One of our 10 pound, six week old airedale puppies got bit last night by a copperhead in the front left foot. Signs of swelling occurred within the first thirty minutes. Within the hour her leg doubled in size, lethargy set in and we administered 25mg of Benadryl by crushing it in a powder form and rubbing it on her tongue. Within the next hour swelling seemed to stop. We held her close as her breathing was rapid and she would occasionally let out a deep cry. We slept by her side throughout the night as she stabilized. Woke up the next morning with life, a nice long drink of water, an extremely painful and swollen leg. Its hard to say how much venom entered. We immediately saw two spots of blood but no oozing or discharge up to this point. I share this information because I find it helpful to hear others experiences. May we all take care