Clinical Cases

Snake Bite – Rattlesnake

Homeopath Ellen Kire shares the case of her 11 year old dog who was bitten by a rattlesnake. A series of remedies including Aconitum, Silica, Lachesis, Arsenicum and Crotalus h. were administered after differential analysis.

Background:  

Shelby is an 11 year old dog and weighs 25 pounds.  We adopted her and her sister in January 2018 from an animal shelter here in New Mexico where they had lived most of their lives – outside in a fenced pen with no shelter except straw bales for shade from the hot high desert sun, monsoon rains and below freezing temperatures in winter. Both were mixed breeds, Australian cattle dog and terrier. Both had been spayed and had a yearly 5-way vaccination (coronavirus, distemper, parvo virus, parainfluenza, adeno virus type 2), rabies vaccination every 3 years, and monthly medications for intestinal worms and heartworm.

It took over a year for both to adjust to living in a house with myself and my husband and act like normal happy dogs.  Both were inseparable and would become terrified if not always together and from any change in routine. Indoors both loved to lie in their comfy dog beds and were not easily coaxed out unless it was for a slice of cheese or treat. They were quiet, timid, shy, anxious, jumpy and afraid of us and people in general…and other dogs or cats.

After about 6 months they had bonded to us and we could let them be outside with us, off leash. Digging holes, finding old cattle bones on the land, chasing rabbits, ravens, and hiking with us were their fun activities. We live on 20 acres of high desert land, part of which is a bluff and mesa behind the house and the rest is pinyon pine, juniper and sage brush. Here in Nothwestern New Mexico it is very rural, 7200 feet in elevation, yet very hot and dry with lots of wildlife, elk, deer, pronghorns, bear, birds and of course poisonous snakes, spiders and blister beetles. Rattlesnakes are the only poisonous snake in this area and we see them often in the summer and fall on our property, as well as the brown recluse spider, the black widow, and tarantula spiders.

Prickly Pear cactus grows low on the ground everywhere.  The long spines are easily embedded in the skin and painful to pull out. Both dogs often get them while romping and ask us to pull them out by holding up the injured limb. Neither seems to suffer from the wound and no infection occurs, probably because both are on their constitutional remedy. Shelby has some health issues, vomiting food or mucus, reverse type sneezes, straining at stool, dandruff, styes and eye discharge, bad teeth, separation anxiety, and nervousness during storms with rain, thunder and lightning. She also eats wood, bark, and other dry matter that results in vomiting. She loves to eat ice and packed snow outside and preferred cold drinks, turning up her nose to warm water in her water bowl. Her thirst is normal, drinks after eating,  more on warm days of summer and with exercise. Car rides seemed to be stressful. She is thirsty and can get dandruff, white flakes on her neck and body, and sometimes in the car she trembles though other times not.

Since April 2019 she has been on her constitutional remedy, one pill of Silica 30c daily. It took me awhile in prescribing to identify her constitutional remedy, in spite of using HFA (Grant Bentley) homeopathic facial analysis, because I had trouble associating facial features of people with those of animals and her teeth, smile and chin features were difficult to allocate to a miasm.  Eventually through trial and error, I was able to identify the dominant miasm of her face and choose the remedy based her face and totality of symptoms. She had done well on the daily dose of 30c for four months which was holding, but occasionally she vomited mucus and was nervous during stormy weather. Perhaps more improvement would result on 200c potency? On July 18, I decided to try Silica 200c, one dose of 1 pill and wait.  I wanted to see how long a single dose would work so did not give her a daily dose.

Day 1   

On  July 22, Monday morning,  both dogs took off into the puckerbrush chasing the ravens, just four days after the single dose of Silica 200c.  It is 10 am.  Maybe 15 minutes later both returned home.  Shelby was moving slowly and holding up her left arm.  Thinking it was a cactus spine, I examined her paw and leg. I saw some bright red drops of blood oozing from two puncture wounds on the top of her paw.  I washed, clipped the hair, and poured diluted Calendula tincture on her paw.  Arnica 6X was given orally when I realised her paw was swelling fast, but she never flinched or moved, so I was puzzled that there was no pain. The slow bleeding did not stop and this was another red flag because Arnica always worked fast in the past for bleeding and swelling for our horse, our dogs and ourselves.

Then the whole arm began to swell and it finally dawned on me that this might be a rattlesnake bite! Immediately Lachesis 200c was given, because it is often the first choice for snakebites. Her nose was hot, her pupils dilated, she was quiet and her injured arm was twitching. I looked in my acute homeopathic books for protocols because I was unsure about redosing and read that the shock symptoms needed to be treated first.  Shelby was showing signs of shock: rapid breathing, appeared dazed, slow moving and panting. Now her nose was cool, the wound was still bleeding bright red blood, and she has moved out of her bed to the cooler floor. At 11 am, Aconite 30c, 1pill is given for shock.  Twenty minutes later, her nose is hot again and dry, she is not moving, and wound is bleeding less, more oozing than bleeding. Her left arm is still swelling so I redosed Aconite 30c. Two minutes later she is licking her paw.  She is having heart palpitations that are visible over her heart and her nose is hot and dry again (11:50). Arsenicum 200c, 1 pill, given because it reps highest and is listed for snakebites and wounds from poisonous animals. I also know it is another Brown remedy like Silica, according to the HFA system (Homeopathic Facial Analysis)  so know that choosing another  remedy from the same HFA miasmatic group is a good plan. But in past, Arsenicum did not work as her constitutional remedy for her chronic health issues.  However, as this is an acute issue, it seems prudent to give it a try. By 1:45, she is resting, the swelling is getting worse, and the passive oozing of bright red blood has stopped finally She is not moving except for her eyes, still dilated, and I decide to try her constitutional remedy Silica 200c, 1 pill given at 1:45 pm.

Fifteen minutes later she yelps when I move her left arm which is still swollen!  At 2:10 she stands, sways a bit and tries to walk to her water bowl but cannot…she looks stiff and like a “kind of paralysis”.  We bring her water and she drinks a good amount, much more than she would normally drink. Then her left arm twitches or trembles while she is lying at rest.  The oozing bright red blood resumes again. I am worried that Silica might not be the right remedy because it is not listed for wounds from poisonous critters.  Crot-h comes up highest in next rep when I add in the trembling of upper limb at rest and is the isopathic remedy made from the Rattlesnake venom.  Crot-h 30c, 1 pill, is given at 3 pm as I do not have any other potency. She gets up at 3:50 to go out to pee, walking very slowly and gingerly. Urine clear and no blood. By 4 pm it is thundering with lightning and heavy rain- all of which she ignores! She drinks more water- again a lot more than normal- and is out to pee twice more that day. She has two more doses of Crot-h 30c at 6:30 pm and 10:30 pm.  Pupils still dilated and no more trembling or twitches.    Indifferent to food, weather.  Washes her paw and is still alert and awake at 10:30 pm. Normally she sleeps through the night and is in bed by 7 pm. (Crot-h has insomnia though is sleepy).

Day 2

Shelby is still moving slowly and gets up only to drink water and pee outside…. we carry her in and out and bring the water bowl to her.  She still has no appetite for food…. and still drinking a lot more water than is normal.  Alert, but lethargic and her left arm looks a bit less swollen so maybe past the crisis? Pupils still dilated. No more oozing from wound. Crot-h 30c is given at 7:30 am.  But by 10 am her left chest and axilla is swollen and feels firm, tense, edema. By 3 pm she has dandruff again and coat is dull looking.  Eats a little kibble and dog treats. At 9 pm she still has rolls of fluid on her left chest and armpit and her arm is still less swollen, with dilated pupils. I am worried about the dropsy and decide to try a dose of Arsenicum 30c at 9 pm.  Urine still clear and no blood seen so this is a good sign.

Day 3

Arsenicum 30c given at 6:15 am.  Dropsy might be slightly better and arm is still swollen but not as bad as it was at its worst? Thirsty with cool nose. At 7:45 her body trembles while lying, but not the left arm – and dandruff is worse again. Her right pupil looks normal in size but the left pupil is still dilated!  Silica 30c is given at 8:45 am because of the unequal pupils, trembling, and dandruff.  At 9:45 she is walking better, moving faster though still slower than normal and she pees clear urine with no blood. She finally poops a firm but normal stool. By 10 am she is less stiff and moving better, eating some kibble and treats.  By noon she is even better and acting more like her normal self.  Silica 30c is repeated at 1:30 pm and I am convinced she needs her constitutional remedy. By 2:30 pm her pupils are not dilated and both are the same size! Silica 30c is repeated at 4 pm. Trembling of left arm while standing outside at 5 pm. Silica 30c is repeated at 8:45 pm.  She is still drinking more water than normal with clear urine.  Silica covers the dropsy, prostration of mind and body, and prevents tissue necrosis and sepsis. Silica seems to be working better than Arsenicum or the other remedies  for everything!

Day 4

Dropsy is improving, left arm is still swollen but better, pupils normal, nose is cool, wound still healing fine with no visible tissue damage or necrosis, still drinking water and eating more.  In the morning trembling of right side and right arm while standing. She wants to go with her sister for their customary morning walk and wags her tail! Silica 200c is given at 9 am and dandruff observed on body by 10 am.  In the afternoon the fluid roll on chest has moved downward on her chest about 6 inches below armpit.  She still ingnores the thunder which normally causes anxiety. Silica 200c is redosed at 7 pm.

Day 5

Silica 200c redosed at 6:45 am.  Eats breakfast, goes for walk on leash and shows interest in rabbits, birds, and checks out all her favorite places. We drive to Albuquerque airport to pick up neighbors who are flying in from CA.  I am amazed when Shelby prances along the walkway with tail wagging at her favorite rest area to pee on the way to Albuquerque! She acts more like her normal self again and is fine all day long.  Fluid is almost gone on her chest, her left arm is still slightly swollen and wound is healed!

Day 6

Silica 200c redosed at 6:15 am.  She is drinking less water and eating normal amount at breakfast.  Fluid is still slightly there on lower chest only and left arm still a bit swollen. She notices when it thunders in afternoon – so all seems almost back to normal again!  She may or may not need another dose of Silica 200c daily.  I will wait and see how dropsy looks tomorrow and redose if it worsens or stops improving.

Day 7

Shelby is doing great- no dandruff, no edema, wound is healed and eats and drinks normally. Her arm is still slightly swollen. No remedy given today.

Day 8

Silica 200c is redosed, one pill in morning at 8:15 am to help with slight swelling in her arm that is still present.  By the evening her arm is normal size and all better!

Summary:

All the acute remedies given – Arnica, Aconite, Lachesis, Arsenicum and Crotalus-horridus helped with the common symptoms of pain, swelling, infection, and shock. Thankfully, there are quite a few homeopathic remedies for poisonous bites that will work. The other main remedies for poisonous bites and stings are Apis, Ledum, Echinacea, Cedron, Hypericum and Carbo-veg. Homeopathic veterinary books suggest using whatever potency is available with frequent repetition for the immediate crisis and seeking veterinary assistance as well. Some recommend 6x or 6c and others use 30c or higher potencies.  A good reference book is First Aid with Homeopathy by Dr. Manuel Mateu Ratera.  Protocols using homeopathy and other treatments for bites and stings of many poisonous creatures found throughout the world (spiders, stingrays, jellyfish, snakes, scorpions, tarantulas) are mentioned. Some herbal treatments of Echinacea, Cedron, Euphorbia polycarpa (spurge) and Golondrina were used by indigenous cultures and applied topically or ingested to detoxify the venom.

Though this was an acute case caused by a snakebite, Shelby’s quick recovery was clearly influenced by her constitutional remedy. Perhaps being on her constitutional remedy before the snakebite helped to mitigate the common problems caused by snake venom, such as tissue necrosis, sepsis, paralysis and hemorrhaging. Silica definitely helped her make a full recovery in only 8 days. Thankfully, the other remedies given worked well and as expected for acute emergencies!  Isn’t homeopathy wonderful!

In this case, there were individualizing symptoms that helped in differentiating the acute remedies given:  the trembling of her arm at rest, dry warm skin, and the unequal pupils.  Shelby was quiet, stiff and slow in motion with warm dry skin.   The trembling at rest and dry warm skin suggested Crot-h over Lachesis, which tends towards moist skin, or Ledum, known for cool skin. Crotalus-h tends to be slower in motion and confused, whereas Lachesis tends to be restless, agitated and aggressive, which Shelby did not exhibit. Shelby’s blood was bright red and all the snake remedies can have bright red bleeding, although snakes are generally associated with having dark or black blood.  None of the snake remedies have unequal pupils so when this symptom appeared, this was a clear sign she needed Silica, her constitutional remedy. Silica may have been the best choice all along since it covers puncture wounds, dropsy, mental and physical prostration, stiffness and paralysis, septicemia, shock, and hemorrhaging of bright red blood! But Silica is not listed for wounds from poisonous animals so hard to say if it would have sufficed.

Past clinical experience working for several veterinarians, post secondary education in animal science and having dogs with severe chronic disease has taught me the importance of allopathic medicine in emergencies.  However, veterinary assistance was not considered because I have since learned the power of homeopathy to deal with life threatening emergencies where time is critical. In this case, the nearest veterinary clinic was almost one hour away and time was short. Local people here will not seek medical attention for this reason, plus cost is prohibitive. Snakebites are often fatal here in the Southwest….or result in long term health issues. Wounds from poisonous creatures are frequently fatal, especially in smaller animals and those that are either very young or elderly, or in poor health.

Conventional treatment requires antivenom serum that must be administered intravenously or by injection within 4 hours of the bite to be effective. Snake identification is helpful because there is a better chance for successful treatment with matching antivenom serum. There are multiple spectrum antivenoms used in some parts of the world because it is not feasible to have every type on hand due to the many kinds of snakes living there. The antivenom may not be available and it is very expensive. And there is no guarantee of a successful outcome. Also, certain serums do not work even though they are the isopathic antidote. The patient must be observed closely in the hospital as severe allergic reactions to antivenom serum are common. The process of milking poisonous snakes to obtain the venom is dangerous and repetitive milking eventually results in the death of the snake, not to mention that the venom is then injected into horses to produce the necessary antibodies, which then requires bleeding the horse to obtain the antivenom serum which puts the horse at risk as well.  The entire process is complicated, dangerous to all involved and the final product may cause anaphylactic shock due to the chemicals added and an allergy to the proteins from the snake and horse.   After considering all the risk factors involved with antivenom serum for humans and animals, it seems a poor choice and certainly not an option for all. Homeopathy, on the other hand, is compassionate, readily available, low cost, easy to administer, and with proper training, very safe and effective!

Repertorizations:

Here are the repertorizations used for Shelby and each reflects the changes in her symptoms  that were observed – trembling or twitching at rest, difference in pupil size- dilation and unequal, heart palpitations, dropsy, lethargy, “paralysis”, loss of appetite with increased thirst and indifference to pain.

July 22      REP # 1  Remedies:  Lach Puls Led Ars Merc Sep Arn PH-ac Phos Rhus-t Nat-m Crot-h Stram Acon Bell Sulph Nit-ac Carb-v China Nux-v Hep Sec Sil Caust

July 22      REP # 2 Remedies:  Crot-h  Rhus-tox Ars Lach Sep Nit-ac SulphPhos Puls Bell Led Am-c Dulc Merc Sil PH-ac Arn Iod Stram Calc Ferr  Colch Acon Spig Lyc Caust Chin Dig Sang Thuj Canth

July 24    REP # 3 Remedies:  Lach Ars Sep Led Phos Sulph Am-c Rhus-t Crot-h Bell Sil PH-ac Merc Puls Arn Stram Acett-ac  Nit-ac Carb-v Ferr Colch Ip Acon Dig  Nat-m  Zinc Caps Anthr Plb

About the author

Ellen Kire

Ellen Kire

Ellen V. Kire CF Hom completed the 2010 and 2011 HFA courses with Grant Bentley and is an HFA representative in the USA. She graduated from the Caduceus Institute of Classical Homeopathy in 2011 and lives in Maine with her family.

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