Monday, September 15, 2014

Adventures in Rattlesnake Bites

On Thursday (9/11/14), Mike loaded up the kids while I was sleeping and went to visit a friend.  At 9:15PM, he woke me, told me to dress and informed me we were taking Elly to the vet.  I didn't ask, I could hear the panic in his voice and just dressed.

He came home and I knew without asking what happened.  She was bitten by a rattlesnake on the face.  The whole right side of her face was swelling and she yelped every time it was touched by something.  Into the car and up the interstate we went (because why would my town have a 24/7 emergency vet?). 

Mike never saw the offending rattlesnake, and to my understanding, it was never located.

I called Mandy and asked her where she took Meeka in July when she was bit.  1st Pet Veterinary it was. I called in advance to give them a 30 minute warning we were coming.  Mike carried her in and a tech came out and took her from him immediately.  We didn't even finish filling out the basic paperwork when the vet called us back.  Dr. Berko was fantastic, all of the staff was fantastic.  She laid everything out (including pricing) and gave us options.  We made our decisions, put our downpayment in and were led back to see her.  The place was immaculate and quiet. 

Elly already had IV fluids going and pain meds in her system.  She was upset but had a large pen for the night.  They would have to keep her to give fluids, anti-venom, and monitor her clotting.  I hated leaving her. The vet called us before we got home to tell us that her blood work looked good, considering, and that Elly had a great prognosis.

I did not get pictures of how swollen she was.  It didn't cross my mind.  The right side of her face was triple its normal size.  Fluid had built up in her neck and chest.  She looked terrible.

The next morning we called.  At 9AM they ran a final blood test and told us we could pick her up.  She was loopy on pain meds and still swollen.  She was sporting, what I affectionately called, a Mastiff face. (pictures just don't do it justice)

We were actually refunded some money.  The staff gave us pain meds and a course of home treatment: no activity and soft foods for 10 days.  She would be spoiled on raw frozen patties.  Poor kid.

After a good meal, Elly slept most of the day and night.  She was clearly in a lot of pain.  I hate to see my baby so sad.

By Saturday the swelling was subsiding.  We could only spot one actual puncture wound in her nose, so we're thinking she didn't get a full blast of venom.  She was still in some discomfort and slept most of the day.

Sunday was a lot of lazing. But she was becoming herself again.  By Monday morning, she was boring holes into my head (a silent technique she uses to beg/ask for a walk).  Apparently sunning in the backyard wasn't cutting it anymore.  Cabin fever set in and she needed to go explore.  I took them both out to the field for a short romp (don't tell the vet). 

She is still a little lopsided and there is still a bit of fluid in her neck, but she is bouncing back faster than I anticipated. My little trooper. Also, look how svelte she is! She's been on a diet for a few month and dropped 10lbs.

What I learned:

1. Stay calm.  The vet was impressed with how calm she was under the circumstances.  Mike and I made small talk in the car on the way to the vet to keep our emotions in check.  It helped her too.

2. Follow your gut, as well as your vet's advice.  This was our first experience with 1st Pet, we had NO idea what to expect.  They were incredibly knowledgeable and the first thing they provided us with was a "What to Expect" flyer.  Rattlesnake bites are up this year, and they are pros at this point.

3. Money is no object.  It wasn't cheap. And I didn't care.

4. Mind your dogs in open desert settings, to include chain link fenced yards.  Elly has a decent prey drive. Distracted pet parents can prove fatal.

5. 1st Pet was amazing.  I'm honestly contemplating making them my primary vet, even though they are 35 minutes away. Our current primary vet isn't terrible, but I have left there feeling less than impressed on several occasions.  Google could've done a better job.

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