Dog Bitten By Rattlesnake Dies Shortly After Release From Hospital

A dog has died just days after being repeatedly bitten by a rattlesnake in Pranther, part of California's Central Valley region.

Jersey, the three-year-old dog, was playing on the rocks outside the home of her owner Deborah Smith when she encountered the snake.

Smith told California's KGPE: "I heard the gravel move and she came out from between the cars, and she was swollen and drooling, and she had been bit by a rattlesnake."

Jersey was rushed to Fresno Pet ER, where she was immediately placed on anti-venom treatment after she was found to have five rattlesnake bites.

The dog was well enough to be sent home following three days at the hospital. But days later, Jersey died on the morning of May 8.

The family believes the venom must have gotten into the dog's bloodstream and caused her organs to fail.

Smith said: "She was so happy to be home, I'm glad we had those couple days with her."

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the Smith family cover Jersey's medical costs.

It is estimated that there may be over 100,000 venomous snake bites that occur in dogs and cats each year. The mortality rate varies from 1 to 30 percent, depending on the size of the pet, the species of the snake and the location of the bite, according to the ASPCA.

"Most pets will recover with prompt and appropriate treatment, but snake bites can be fatal. There are higher fatality rates for dogs who are bitten on the tongue or the chest and for pets who have a long delay between the time of the bite and treatment by a veterinarian," the ASPCA says.

Camala Siebeneicher, an animal care manager at Fresno's Valley Animal Center, said getting your pet to the hospital as soon as possible after a snake bite could be the difference between life and death.

"Don't think you have 10 hours to get to the vet—you have a couple hours to get to the vet," Siebeneicher told KGPE. She noted pet owners should call the hospital before arriving to make sure anti-venom is available at the clinic.

Rattlesnakes are commonly found in the country's western region in various habitats including mountains, prairies, deserts and beaches. "Most have hemotoxic venom and their bites are very painful," the ASPCA says.

Western diamondbacks are considered to be the most dangerous species of rattlesnakes. There is a rattlesnake vaccine available for dogs against western diamondback venom.

"While there is no evidence that it works for other venomous snake bites, it could theoretically decrease the severity of clinical signs and appears to be safe," the ASPCA advises.

Dog owners should consider getting their dog vaccinated if they live in an area where western diamondbacks are commonly found, including southeastern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, the ASPCA notes.

The U.S. is home to more than 25 different species of rattlesnakes. Most snake bites occur between April and October "when snakes and humans are most active outdoors," the U.S. Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture says.

There are over 2,700 snake species in the world and less than a third of them are classified as poisonous, while fewer than 300 snake species can be deadly for humans, according to the Forest Service.

Rattlesnakes in Texas March 2021
Western diamondback rattlesnakes pictured in a pit at the Nolan County Coliseum in Sweetwater, Texas on March 13. A dog in California's Central Valley region died just days after being bitten five times by a rattlesnake. Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images