If you follow us on Facebook and Twitter, then you probably already know that what I thought was likely an injured ligament, turned out to be (most likely) a snake bite. I’d like to relate a little bit of what happened because this incident will probably change the way I evaluate injuries to my dogs.
You will know from my last post, that I returned home Friday to find that all my dogs had food poisoning. After spending most of the afternoon and evening cleaning up and ministering to the needs of the dogs I got ready to go pick Jackie up from work.
Right before I left, Tosha came up to me with that look in her eye that meant “I gotta go NOW!” Even with all her urgency, it still took Tosha a good 5 minutes to figure out where to exfoliate the yard. It took her almost as long to do her business as it did to find the sweet spot.
When she finally finished, she leapt up, (for Tosha that’s a six inch vertical) and dashed around the corner of the house to bark at whatever it is that she barks at. I called Tosha inside because I was already running late. I decided to crate her just in case nature decided on being an ass, and I went to pick up Jackie.
When we got home we released the hounds and immediately noticed that Tosha was limping. Something I definitely did not notice before I left. Jackie and I took a look at her right hind leg and noticed some swelling in her right hind hock, but didn’t see much of anything else.
I immediately thought of her straining to go and the little hop she did as she ended her previous bathroom session and pole vaulted to the conclusion that she had injured a ligament. She didn’t seem to have any other symptoms, and considering the food poisoning et al., she was in good spirits. So we bundled everyone off to bed and would check things in the morning.
Saturday morning the swelling in the hock seemed to have gone down a bit, even though Tosha was still a bit lame. She was quiet most of the day as were all the dogs, recuperating from their run in with the Chicken Gotchatore.
As evening progressed, I noticed Tosha wasn’t moving around as much as the other dogs that were already busy protesting the fasting period I’d imposed because of the mildewed meal.
I waited until Jackie got home before undertaking a thorough examination to help me overcome Tosha’s likely protestations. It was then we discovered the swelling further up her leg and the heat emanating from it. Knowing Tuesday would likely be the soonest we could get to our vet. We headed out a bit before midnight on our way to the emergency vet.
An Australian Shepherd, Tosha has very thick, dense fur. But once the vet shaved the area in question we knew she had suffered either a snake or spider bite. After pulling a CBC and getting all normal range results, the vet sent us home with some antibiotics and Rimadyl for the pain, fever, and swelling.
I am happy to report that Tosha is doing well and seems in much better spirits since then. The limp is almost non-noticeable and the swelling and heat have reduced substantially from what they were; all this without having to employ the cone of shame, much to Tosha’s delight. Also, there is no evidence of necrotic tissue yet, a good thing for sure.
What has bothered me as a result of this whole ordeal is, what could or should I have done different? How could I have better handled this?
In my opinion, I think I made the mistake of assuming her injury was a strained ligament. I should have done a more thorough check of the area instead of just chalking it up to circumstantial evidence. Had I used a simple pair of clipper early on to shave the area to get a better look, maybe I would have found out sooner that she had been bitten?
We were lucky that Tosha did not receive a more serious bite. They say that hind sight is 20/20 but it can be 20/100 if we take the time to learn from our mistakes.
I am curious to know what you would have done in my situation. What else should we have done to better evaluate Tosha’s injury? Help me and others learn from my mistake.
Kevin, Jackie. Gavin, Elbee, Annie, and the imminently better, Tosha