Rattlesnake Strike

Friday night, we had an evening woods walk with few puppy families. Saturday was go home day for Bliss and Sailor’s 8-week-old puppies. The rattlesnake didn’t alert with a rattle. The puppy didn’t cry. No one knew anything had happened until symptoms set in. Edited to add: I found out the next week where and when the strike happened.

On the way to the vet.

On the way to the vet.

Our first thought upon discovering a pup with a swollen face was that the puppy bit a bee or was stung perhaps multiple times. Yellow jackets have been plentiful this year. We gave him Benadryl, but it didn’t help, the swelling continued. He was agitated and in a LOT of pain. Rattlesnake bite was also on our radar. One of our vets met us at the hospital in Redding, so we didn’t have to use the ER with a puppy during the at-risk period for parvovirus.

The puppy resting in Tim’s arms after pain meds.

The vet also leaned toward rattlesnake bite due to the intense pain the puppy was suffering. But without the conclusive bite marks, we would be treating symptoms with powerful drugs. We shaved part of his head but couldn’t find fang marks, only a single scrape on the head with a dry scab. It’s hot and dry this time of year, a wound will scab over quickly. This puppy wasn’t presenting like a classic bee sting so we wondered if that spot could be the envenomation point since it was very tender to the touch. We started meds and blood work. If the blood work showed nothing, it would be of no help. But if the red blood cells were changing, we’d have our proof.

The envenomation site outlined by ink dots.

While we waited on blood work, the pain didn’t ease, even on pain med. As Tim and I decided we would go ahead and treat for snake bite, the vet came in with the results of the blood work. That with microscopy analysis confirmed the telltale signs of rattlesnake envenomation.

The puppy was hospitalized and started on antivenin, more pain meds, and supportive care. We returned home and went rattlesnake hunting.

Tim with the culprit.

By 11:00 pm that night, round two of antivenin was started and we had the culprit skinned and ready for the freezer.

By 8:00 am the next morning, the puppy was feeling better. He came home last night.
Of course, the puppy had been paired with a family. We candidly discussed their options and they chose to pass on this puppy and wait for a pup from another litter.
Fast forward to this morning, the puppy now known as Fang looks much better. He feels and acts like a normal puppy. It will take a few more days for the swelling to subside. He will stay with us until healed and then be paired with a new family. He’s one tough puppy.

Kelly, one of the techs shared this image with us.

The Northern Pacific rattlesnake delivered a glancing blow with a single fang. Had it succeeded in a full-on strike, I don’t know if the 8-week-old puppy would’ve survived.

Counting our blessings.


For those who are touting the highly advertised rattlesnake vaccine, take note. That vaccine is specifically designed around the western diamondback and isn’t supported by peer-reviewed research. Our rattlesnakes are the Northern Pacific rattlesnake. Different snake, different venom. A dog still requires veterinary attention even if “vaccinated”. Antivenin treatment is necessary if heavily envenomated, period. There is no conclusive research to support those vaccines for the rattlesnakes in our area. UC Davis Veterinary Hospital doesn’t stock the vaccine.  In an NIH study of the Western Diamondback rattlesnake vaccine, within 48 hours 60% of the vaccinated subjects injected with Western diamondback venom died, 80% death rate for Northern Pacific and 100% death rate for Southern Pacific. Furthermore, an 8-week-old puppy isn’t old enough for this non-core vaccine.

His first night back home. 24 hours after the snakebite.

36 hours after the rattlesnake bite, the puppy is on the mend.

44 thoughts on “Rattlesnake Strike

      • That’s how I got Tommy Boy! His original owner-to-be was too busy to come up and get him. Good for Tommy Boy and me! I couldnt wait to mert him! -All 557 miles! Sometimrs things just happen for the best. It was for us. I’ll never forget him or get over having to say good bye.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh that poor poor puppy!!! Thank goodness you took such good care of him. I feel so bad that he suffered like that. I do like the name Fang – kind of a bad boy vibe! He deserves a family that will appreciate what he has been through. Imagine how he would protect a child from a snake!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Rattlesnake Strike — Sneaking Bliss | THE FORESTER ARTIST

  3. So very, very happy to hear that this little one is doing so well now. What a nightmare. Since Jake & I have met them, my heart goes out to him and you guys for going through this. I’m sure his new family will love him even more for what he’s gone through.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like we talked earlier, we’ll likely look for a home with a small risk for rattlesnake exposure when we screen applicants. It was a tough weekend, but he is doing great! Thanks so much for your concern.


    • I get it, and I appreciate and respect their decision. I can only imagine how heartbroken they were to have the pup chosen for them hurt in such a way. Such a loss. The pup will have his new home when he is healed.


  4. Thank you for the education on rattlesnakes. Didn’t know the issues with there different types. This is great info for a dog owner to have! Hope little Fang is up to less dangerous mischief soon.


    • This was one of the choices I offered them and I support their decision. If they would be worried, I would prefer they pass on the puppy. This puppy will have his home. I feel sad for them, I think of all the people, this impacted them the most. I respect that they were honest enough to let him go to someone else. It was the right choice.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Rattlesnake Attacks Puppy | Sneaking Bliss

  6. Wow… whenever i see images of a ‘serpiente’ – it reminds me to stay on the lookout.. we have fer-de-lances and rattle snakes and all sorts of scary options here in ecuador, and you provided that reminder.

    Dear little Fang is a precious puppy, and what an undeserved retort from a nasty-tempered rattlesnake. That’s great that you had the cam to capture what happened… Wow….


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