Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.See all posts »
He Did What?
In the summer of 1975 when I completed an externship at Fort Belknap in Harlem, Montana, we treated a couple of animals (horses and dogs) that had been bitten by rattlesnakes. When dogs are bitten on the face, the soft tissues can swell up pretty quickly. I've also seen that from bee stings as well. I've never performed mouth-to-muzzle on a dog, but I've heard about it. The animals can become very ill and smaller animals, such as dogs, can certainly die from rattlesnake bites.
It's curious that the man saving his dog required antivenom, because one doesn't become envenomed by eating or drinking venom, which is destroyed in the digestive process. I imagine it's possible that he had open sores in his mouth, but then, he would have needed to be able to actually remove venom from his dog by sucking on the wound to get it into his mouth in the first place, which is also a long shot. The current thinking is that mouth suction really doesn't do anything, and in fact may be harmful (in the case of its application to a human) if it introduces harmful bacteria from a person's mouth into an open wound. I wasn't present, but there's a very good chance that the antivenom really wasn't necessary for the man who treated his dog.
image courtesy of College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences, Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, Colorado State University
Tags: dog nose, dog, snakebite, wilderness medicine, outdoor medicine, healthline
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