Snake Bite

Bites from rattlesnakes are the most common, but water moccasins, copperheads, and corral snakebites also occur.

What you see:

Most bites occur on the face, usually the muzzle. The reason is because a horse will go up to a snake and sniff it out of curiosity. Bites on the legs are less common than those on the face. Bites on the face usually begin to swell rapidly, but bites on the legs have little swelling. A horse that has been bitten on the face will usually look, and act, miserable. The nose and lips will be swollen, and the eyes may be swollen shut. The swelling may extend up to the ears.

What to do:

If your horse has been bitten on the face, and you get to it shortly after it was bitten, you need to keep its nostrils from swelling shut. Cut two pieces of garden hose, or similar tubing, about 5 inches long. Put one in each nostril, and tape them into place. Do not tape over the openings. As the swelling continues, the tape can be removed, as the tape will hold the pieces in place. As the swelling begins to go down, the pieces will fall out.
In severe cases, it may be necessary for a vet to perform a tracheotomy to allow the horse to breathe.

Do not cut the horse and try to suck or drain the venom. This can just do more harm, as it can frighten the horse and, if you accidentally cut a major blood vessel, even help the venom into the bloodstream.

Apply an ice pack to the affected area, but don't leave it on for more than an hour or it could cause frostbite.

Don't ever apply a tourniquet to horses.

Get the horse to a vet, the sooner the better. Keep the horse calm, and don't move him much. Trailer him as far as you can, and walk him as little as possible.

Most horses that are bitten don't die, but they may have tissue damage that could develop into osteomyelitis (bone infection) or gangrene, leading to death. Animals that recover may take weeks or months to do so.

 

 

 

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