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Snake Bites - How to Treat Yourself and Your Animals

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When you live in snake country, you and your animals are at risk for snake bites.  So how do you treat a snake bite?  There are many articles, stories, snake bite kits, and unfortunately fallacies out there.  This article will help you understand the right thing to do if you, your horse or dog is bitten by a snake.

Frances Fitzgerald Cleveland lives in snake country just southwest of the Denver metro area in Colorado.  She and her husband, along with her two horses have experienced rattlesnake bites first hand.  Frances is also the founder of Frogworks,  natural healing with plants and essential oils for you and your animals.  This article will also include some natural ways to assist in healing from a snake bite.

To understand exactly what happens to a person and animal during a snake bite, I will share with you France's husband's experience.  John was working out in the field when he stepped on a rattlesnake.  Unfortunately since John stepped on the snake, there was no warning before the snake attacked and bit him, injecting John with a full dose of venom.  Most snakes do not want anything to do with humans, but when startled or feel threatened they will defend themselves, as in the case with John. 

When the snake struck, John said it felt like he had been stabbed with a barbeque fork.  Approximately 30-40 seconds later he felt his lips go numb.  By the time he made it back to the barn to tell Frances he had been bitten, his leg had already begun to swell and he felt as if someone had beaten his calf with a baseball bat.  John quickly changed his clothes, Frances grabbed her stuff and they jumped in the car to go to the hospital.  Not even four miles from their house, Frances had to take over driving because John could not keep the car straight; he was starting to lose cognitive and motor skills.  Frances took over driving, and called the ER to say they were on their way to Littleton Hospital.  During the drive John was in and out and told Frances she needed to hurry.  Once at the ER they eventually got him into his own room and administered the anti-venom.   At this point John's bitten leg was so swollen it didn't even look like his leg.  Frances applied her healing balm to John's leg which helped to increase the healing of the bite.  The ER doctor discovered John had been bitten by a three prong snake, meaning the snake was in the process of shedding its fangs like it sheds its skin and so there were three puncture wounds instead of the normal two.  John was in the ICU for three days, and within four to six weeks  John was fully recovered.

When both of Frances' horses were bitten (they had gotten bitten before John did) on the nose, she immediately called her vet.  Her vet told her to keep the horses calm, put them in their stalls until she arrived.  She recommended Frances wait until she could administer the nasal tubes because if Frances did it wrong Frances could puncture an artery vein and the horse would drown in its own blood.  Once the vet arrived she treated the horses for the swelling of the nasal passages and face.  Frances decided to wait on administering anti-venom because you can only give it to a horse once.  With her vet's recommendations and her natural healing products both horses fully recovered.  Frances discovered her pony had received more venom then her other horse, because the whole side of his face swelled up whereas her other horse did not, just his muzzle area.  Adult snakes can control how much venom is expelled in a bite.  A warning bite will not have as much venom as an attack/full defense bite will.  It was concluded the horse received the warning bite and the pony received the full defense stay away from me bite.  On a white muzzle the bite marks are easier to see, but on a darker muzzle they are harder to see, as Frances found out with her horse and pony.   

Conclusions and Fallacies

  • * Get to the hospital/vet as soon as physically possible.
  • * Sucking out the venom doesn't work; it travels immediately through the blood stream (recall John felt his lips go numb within 30-40 seconds).
  • * Putting on a tourniquet could increase the risk of fatal cellular damage.  Unless you are miles and miles away from getting to a hospital it is not recommended to use a tourniquet.
  • * Icing the area does not work, and again can increase the risk of fatal cellular damage.
  • * Wait for your veterinarian to insert nasal tubes, unless you are a trained/skilled person and can do it yourself.
  • * The sooner you get the hospital the greater the chance of your and/or your animal's survival.
  • * Natural remedies are always a wonderful compliment to aid in the healing process.



Kim Baker is an author, animal communicator, Certified Reiki Master Teacher and Equine Craniosacral Therapist, natural horse clinician and trainer, and horseback riding instructor specializing in integrating holistic and meditation methodologies into her horsemanship programs, clinics, and retreats. She is also the host of her own talk radio show "The Kim Baker Show ~ the amazing connection between horses, animals and humans!" Kim's passion is helping horse and rider improve their relationship and develop a deeper connection together. For more information call 303-981-2127 or visit our website


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Guest Tuesday, 30 November 2021