Thursday, July 11, 2013

Snakes and Horses

 Summer is here, and almost everyone is ready to enjoy some time with their horse during the long days. However, snakes pose a great hazard, especially if you live in a hot, dry climate with long grass. People living in Western and Eastern states are on the lookout for rattlesnakes, the most common type in the area. In the Southeast, you are most likely watching for water moccasins and copperheads, who live in humid climates. No matter where you live, though, snakes are most likely a major concern during the summer for both you and your horse.

Always watch for venomous snakes, such as this
rattler. (credit)
 Snake bites in horses most often occur when a horse is grazing and is bitten on the muzzle by a resting snake. When that happens, the horse's muzzle will quickly begin to swell, possibly blocking his airways. He may begin to appear depressed before the swelling even begins. If you see a pair punctures in the horse's muzzle, tell-tale signs that he has been bitten, phone the veterinarian immediately.

 While you wait, keep a close eye on the horse, making sure that he doesn't show any signs of respiratory distress. If he does, insert a syringe case, a segment of a garden hose, or another tubular item as far as you can into his nostrils so that he can breathe as his face continues to swell.

 Be warned that snake bites can become infected with bacteria from the Clostridia family, which can cause infections such as tetanus or sepsis.

 Fortunately, no venom is injected in almost 20% of rattlesnakes, and most adult horses survive, even if venom is injected. However, bites are most deadly when inflicted to one of the horse's lower limbs. As the wound swells, the blood flow into the limb can become restricted, and a near fatal crisis can occur.

 Veterinary treatment for snake bites uses anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics since antivenin is expensive and most horse respond well to other treatments for snake bites anyways.

 While waiting for the vet to arrive, try spraying the wound with Melrose and Purification to reduce infection. Clove can also be helpful to fight infection.

 Make sure to closely monitor any horse that has been bitten, even if medical treatment has already been administered. Ensure that he is able to breathe, eat, and drink properly. Also, keeping him in a stable until he is well is advised because some cases can cause altered liver function, which photosensitivity. Keeping a photosensitive horse in the sun can have adverse effects to his body and skin.

 One way to prevent snake bites is to make sure no rodents get in the stable. Store food where rodents can't get to them, preferably in a rodent-proof container, thus attracting less snakes. Also, if you live in an area where snakes such as water moccasins and cottonmouths regularly patrol the waterways, check for them before leading your horse in to drink.

This post is linked to: The Home Acre Hop


  1. Terrified of rattlesnakes. 3 years in Texas and I've never seen one, but still terrified.

  2. Great information, I'll bookmark this for future reference although I hope I won't need it! Thank you for sharing on the HomeAcre Hop; please join us again this Thursday.


Thank you for reading this post! I love to hear from and interact with my readers; it's what makes blogging worth it, so please comment and let me know what you think.