My brave little dog


In the Brooder
9 Years
Aug 9, 2010
My beagle, Dixie, was never planned. But my 9-year-old kept begging for a dog, and after 6 chickens and 3 cats, I finally was stupid enough, I thought, to get a dog from the pound. When she met the chickens, she got a bit too eager and one pecked her on the nose, and after that she decided her job was to protect (instead of eat) these animals. She has kept them alive when a raccoon kept trying to get in. She's saved their lives countless times because she takes guard-dogging very seriously.

But this afternoon, she was barking up a storm and we found a copperhead snake that had gotten in and taken some eggs. My neighbor came over with a shovel and killed the snake. But about 5 minutes later, Dixie was walking funny, with her head turned sideways and looking pretty miserable. It dawned on me that she had probably gotten too close to the snake and gotten bitten.

So we rushed her to the all-hours vet (my kids sobbing all the way because she was yelping and shaking constantly), and this idiot doctor insisted that since she couldn't find a bite mark, Dixie must be suffering from a slipped disk. She pooh-poohed the idea of a snake bite and grudgingly said that if we were still convinced, she would keep her overnight...for $1200 (yes, that's twelve hundred dollars for one night's stay!!) I have no way of paying that kind of money, so we took her home.

Well, her neck is swollen from ear to ear and one eye is swelled shut. This is no slipped disk. She is totally miserable but threw up the pain pills we gave her. We did manage to get a benadryl down her. But according to what I have read on line, copperheads shouldn't be fatal. But I feel so bad that she was hurt trying to protect my chickens. We tried letting her go out to pee and she went immediately to the area where the snake had been and stood still, like she knew she was supposed to be guarding, but was so groggy and miserable she couldn't remember what to do. It really broke my heart.

Does anyone have experience with copperheads?! I had no idea we had ANY poisonous snakes around here. I got rid of a 6-foot black snake last summer, but I've never seen a copperhead before. I know this is a doggy question rather than a chicken one, but does anyone know what I can do for my poor doggie?!?


In the Brooder
8 Years
May 24, 2011
So sorry about your dog!

We had a copperhead bite our dog and a cat. We also took one of them to the vet, the other we treated here at home.

The dog was bitten on her front paw. It swelled up in a big way. We treated with benadryl, which made her really sleepy (It was liquid benadryl, by the way.). We also used some ice for the swelling. She was in a fair amount of discomfort, but nothing she really couldn't handle.

The thing about a copperhead is where the venom went in. If it went straight into a blood vessel of some sort, that's bad. Not much you can do. But most don't. Give fluids, watch closely and keep out of the heat.

(One thing you might want to know is that the black snakes help keep the copperheads away. We never kill or remove the black ones. They are good to have around.)

I have a friend that is a vet and have called and left a message about your dog. I will post info as I get it.

Hang in there!


9 Years
Oct 6, 2010
SW Michigan
I wish I had a different answer, but you are doing everything I can think of at home for pain management. I use children's aspirin for my lab after a hard day in the field, I am just not sure how that would work with a snake bite. As for the vet, highway robbery is about the nicest thing I can say! Good luck with the brave beagle, it sounds like she is a fighter!


In the Brooder
8 Years
May 24, 2011
Ok. So this is the info I got.

25 mg of benadryl every 8 hours. Usually one or two doses will get rid off all the swelling and that is all that is needed.
(This dose is assuming the dog is a normal weight. I guessed it at 23 pounds, which is the normal weight for the breed.)

You can also give plain aspirin at a dose of 1/2 of an adult (375 mg) aspirin every 8 hours for pain. I asked if there is a liquid you can give for pain relief, (maybe she will tolerate that better than pills), but the doc says no. Just the aspirin. Maybe you could hide it in a favorite treat or some yogurt.

Hope this helps.

Good luck!


8 Years
Aug 7, 2011
west virginia
I am surprized the doc said to give aspirin, since the pit viper venon is hemolytic, and well, asa inhibits clotting,,,,,oh well
I hope you didn't pay that vet-I would not, I would see my vet (it would be a holiday weekend) maybe they have emergency appointments- to provide secondary support as well for infection, and for collaboration on envenomation - then tell the other vet to refund your money, based on unsatisfactory and incompentent treatment, you could even say, substandard level of care.
I hope your dog does alright, chances are she will, although small, it sound like she could have gotten hit in the shoulder or neck, which may be better than a distal strike, hope all goes well


8 Years
Jul 30, 2011
Bonney Lake
liquid pain reliever, liquid benedryl and you should be able to find suppositories for pain when vomiting. a small syringe with some pedialyte and get some puppy formula for nutrition. Try to keep stimulation to a minimum and let her sleep as much as she wants.

I also wanted to add I hope she feels better soon! Such a hero and a good protector! Lots of spoiling when all is well!
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Muddy Acre Farms
12 Years
Sep 20, 2009
Pride, La.
I have no words of insight to help with your problem! I just wanted to say I hope your little baby does alright!!
Sounds like a keeper and needs an extra treat when it's all better!!


Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
May 3, 2009
New Jersey
A beagle belonging to a friend of mine was also bitten by a copperhead while running a rabbit. The side of her head swelled grotesquelly and eventually the skin on that side of her face and partially down her front leg sloughed off. She healed fine winning numerous field trials and raising several litters after the incident. She would not go anywhere near a snake or turtle after the bite. Continue with the pain management, monitor her and she should be fine. I had a dog bitten by a copperhead while running at a field trial. His reaction to the venom was not as significant as my friend's dog, but after that bite he would no longer run at field trials. As a result he never gained the third win necessary for his championship. Hopefully your dog is doing well today.


8 Years
Jul 15, 2011
Good luck little beagle. We're all hoping for a speedy recovery for her
I have many dogs and never had one get sick or injured during office hours.
Please keep us updated on your dogs recovery!!

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