Anyone who lives or has lived with a dog knows we canines have heart. If you had your doubts, consider the case if ‘Freeway Frida’, a 5-year-old German Shepherd who survived for five weeks on a freeway median near Galt, CA, after tumbling from the back of a truck. Thanks to Galt Police officer Sylvia Coelho and her counterparts from the CHP, the emaciated Frida was finally rescued and brought to the vet where she was treated for two broken bones and severe weight loss. According to the May 24 LA Times report by Daniel Serna, Frida managed to stay alive by sipping scant rainwater and foraging for plants and road scraps. What a lucky, plucky, dog.
While we often tout the myriad virtues of pit bulls, many other breeds are equally amazing. This week’s honors go to German Shepherds, specifically Haus, a 2-year-old shepherd who stepped into harm’s way when an Eastern diamondback rattler menaced his family’s 7-year-old daughter. As reported by ABC News, Haus sustained several bites, resulting in thousands of dollars in vet bills. Thanks to generous donors, a GoFundMe account to cover the expenses has already topped $35,000.
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
While most dogs will never encounter a venomous snake, knowing what to do could save your pup’s life in the event it ever happens (from GIMME SHELTER, resource Howie Baker, DVM). “Most rattlesnake venom is “hemotoxic”, meaning that it compromises the integrity of blood vessels, causing swelling that impairs circulation and normal clotting, which can lead to uncontrolled bleeding, shock, and death. The venom of the Mojave rattler is “neurotoxic,” causing rapid paralysis of the respiratory system and suffocation. The seriousness of a bite depends on the type of snake, the size of the dog, and the amount of venom injected. Some bites are “dry” (no venom injected), and only a small percentage of bites are fatal, but all snakebites should be considered serious and treated as emergencies, even in vaccinated dogs. Facial bites are particularly serious, since swelling may block the throat or hinder the ability to breathe. Seek immediate veterinary attention and do not try to cut the bite wound open or suck out the poison. The treatment for a snake bite consists of the following:
- IV Fluids. Since the most common cause of death from snakebites is circulatory failure, IV support (administration of fluids via catheter), and blood pressure monitoring are very important.
- Antivenin. Antivenin can be very helpful in the inactivation of snake venom but there is a narrow window (approx. 4 hrs.) during which it must be used. It’s especially crucial with small dogs (and cats), since the amount of venom they receive per pound is much greater than with large dogs.
- Antihistamines. Injected antihistamines may help with the inflammation from the actual bite and in preventing possible anaphylactic reaction to antivenin
To avoid the anxiety and expense consider investing in avoidance training and having your dog vaccinated. Through the use of a shock collar, the trainer applies a mild stimulus to teach the dog to avoid the sound, smell, and sight of defanged or muzzled reptiles. Check to see if your local Parks & Recreation Department offers avoidance training. In Malibu, group classes start at around $70.00. Rattlesnake vaccine offers protection against the venom of the Western Diamondback and the other rattlers except the Mojave Rattlesnake. Most dogs require two-three doses at a cost of approximately $30/dose. Vaccination offers protection equal to two vials of antivenin, which runs several hundred dollars per vial.
If I Roll On the Bed and No One’s There, Am I Still Bad?
Finally, while some dogs are brave and resilient, we’ve all known a few that are crafty and disobedient, like this sly pit bull who thinks the coast is clear when his owner leaves the house. Why is it that forbidden fruit is always the sweetest? (watch the video)