Central Okanagan  

Pup's life saved after rattle snake bite

He saved her life not once, but twice.

Dr. Oz of Rose Valley Veterinary was called to the clinic late Sunday afternoon after learning a puppy's life was once again at risk. He had already saved the dog's life once before.

Back in October,  Ruby was brought in to the South Okanagan BC SPCA suffering from severe dehydration, lethargy and an infestation of intestinal giardia parasites. She was rushed to Dr. Oz for ultrasound scans, radiologist consultations, blood tests, IV fluids and medications, all care was paid for by Dr. Oz himself.

Fast forward to a week ago, where Ruby was been playing in her backyard at her new forever home in Penticton when she was bitten on the nose by a rattle snake. Guardian Shayne Mathers says he was sitting on his patio when he heard a yelp.

"She came up and had two little red marks just past the black part on her nose," he explains. "We thought she couldn't have been bit by a snake, we haven't seen one in the last couple years."

But instantly Ruby's nose started to swell and Mathers began to panic. He phoned several clinics in Penticton, but all were closed as it was Sunday.

"So we phoned Dr. Oz out of the blue, to ask what we could do, we've never had a dog bit by a rattle snake before. He said where are you guys,"  Mathers explained he was headed to Kelowna to get to the only 24 hour Veterinary Hospital (Fairfield Animal Hospital).

"He said, well I will meet you at the clinic in Rose Valley. We just phone to see what we could do and he just dropped what he was doing and came to meet us."

As Mathers and the dog arrived at the clinic, Dr. Oz assessed she only had about a 50 per cent chance of living.

"It was really bad, her whole head was swollen it was amazing, " says Dr. Oz.

Ruby was quickly hooked up to an IV and Dr. Oz began giving her lots of fluids.

"She was given two antibiotics, very strong ones and medication to reduce the inflammation," explains the vet.

Anti venom was not used as it is extremely expensive and most clinics do not even carry it due to the price.

Dr. Oz says he checked on Ruby day and night for three days until she was healthy enough to return home, but the reason she survived was due to the quick reaction of Mathers.

"The best luck we had was that she had good owners, immediately when they saw there was a problem they just called. Usually people wait, you know incidents like these always happen on the weekend and they don't want to disturb their weekend  and call the vet and leave their campground or whatever. So they wait and think they will come Monday morning, but by then it will be too late."

While Dr.Oz says he does not regularly tend to snake bites, but it is more common to come in contact with a snake in the South Okanagan.

"It is a huge risk if a dog or cat is bitten. It affects their whole system, the blood system, the nerve system, the respiratory system, it can cause paralysis and lots of pain for the animal," says Dr. Oz who suggest the affects of a bite can take over rapidly, within 45 minutes at times.

Depending on the location of the bite, the consequences can be deadly. An animal bitten on the face, throat or hind leg are the worst areas due to the blood vessels in the body.

"It also depends on the season, at the start of the season the snake has more venom, it is stronger. By the end of the season it's diluted. So the cases I see at the start of the summer season are worse than those at the end," he explains. "It also depends on how much the snake uses it's venom through out the season."

If you fear your pet has been bitten by a rattle snake, here are some symptoms to look for:

  • two puncture wounds
  • swelling
  • change in behaviour ie. from running around in the backyard to whimpering and lying down
  • if you touch the area that may have been bitten, it is painful for the animal

Ruby returned home Wednesday morning, although she is still on medication she is expected to make a full recovery.

Mathers says if it wasn't for the the experienced staff and the kindness of Dr. Oz to tend to Ruby on a Sunday afternoon the out come would have been much different for the little puppy.

"They are just phenomenal."

More Central Okanagan articles