Our Poor Dog Was Bit by a Rattlesnake!

In search for a secluded, scenic campsite in Mexico we drive up a cobblestone mountain road. Hours away from the closest tienda we found a spot for camping, hiking and hanging out together.

The road was a little rough and scared our van friends so we went alone.

After 13,000ft the road was impassable but the area was scenic and secluded. We all hopped out looking for a spot to camp.

We found a campsite with a fire pit, beautiful view and a hike that branches off.

We were hoping to stay for a while and summit the mountain by foot. We even limited our water usage so we could stay as long as possible. When we find spots this good the clock starts to see how long we can last independently.

It had been so long since we used our heater, we really didn’t think we would use it again after ski season. We’re sometimes getting into wild situations where maybe using a heater in July in Mexico is a necessity.

The pets loved running around the campsite all day. Everyone slept well the first night at our perfect campsite.

The next day everything seemed to be working well. The view from our campsite was filled with rolling fog, trees poking their way through. Once the sun burned off some clouds it was warm enough to relax outside and enjoy the rays.

After sweating it out in Baja California, Mexico during the first lockdowns the cool mountain air and seclusion felt like a dream. The time passed leisurely as we decided to rest and try hiking to the summit the next day. Since we had spent so much time at sea level we had to get used to the elevation change.

Sombrita, our pup that we adopted in Mexico before the lockdown enjoyed the freedom. But she wants to play with everything, too many things. Whereas our cat, Graham already knew the drill and loved wandering at his own pace. He always comes back.

Sombrita trotted over to us from a very short wander and suddenly had a giant, swollen lip. Without whimpering or any noises during the fact we were left so confused. At first we thought it could have been Graham, because the kitty is known to throw out a few punches at our energetic puppy. As the swelling grew we knew this was something more intense.

We discovered Sombrita’s swollen snake bite at 5:45pm.

When depending whether or not to go to the hospital usually it’s better to just go. Even though we’d have to drive at night down a massive mountain on a sketchy road we headed down.

After cleaning it, trying to figure out what happened and watching the swelling slightly increase we decided it was time to go to the vet. We packed everything up from our campsite and started heading down at 6:30pm.

The road going back down was meant for going slow but we had an emergency. Danny did an amazing job keeping it together and heading down safely.

As we head down the mountain the service brakes light comes on. A blow that Danny quickly asked our mechanic friend, Joss about. Knowing the situation Joss said it would be fine for now but after we get Sombrita fixed up the van will need some love too. Throughout the journey to the vet the van brake light would mysteriously turn on and off, heightening the already dramatic time.

We didn’t get to a paved road for an hour, 7:30pm.

Once we got to a stable road our cell service returned making it possible to call and message all the vets in the area. Unfortunately the town closest did not have anti-venom. We found a very helpful vet in Xalapa, which would be another hour away who did not have the anti-venom but could get it for us. He also had experience camping and climbing in the area we were so he was able to identify the bite quickly.

We had hope knowing that the road we were going to take was a toll road which meant less curves, less traffic, less topes (speed bumps) and less potholes. As the booths came into vision we saw police standing in front of them turning people away. The toll road was closed. We begged the police officer to let us take the road, but there was nothing he could do. This would add another hour to this terrifying drive and the free road would have more people on it.

As Sombrita started to tremble and blood oozed from her wound Danny heroically passed tons of cars and semi trucks to get to the vet as soon as possible. We made it to Xalapa thanks to Danny’s great driving.

We finally made it to the vet at 9pm.

The vet, Manuel started the anti-venom immediately. Each vial was expensive at 3,687 Mexican pesos which converts to roughly 185USD. Because of Sombrita’s weight she needed three vials for the treatment. Although expensive the treatment almost immediately started to work. The swelling went down and the clear, bloody ooze stopped coming from the bite site.

The saline solution made Sombrita cold and shaky so during the treatments I held her to keep her warm. Manuel numbed the bite site which constantly made her lick her lips. He also gave her some food, since she missed her dinnertime.

Manuel was so great to us, he got us some much needed food and water. He walked with Danny to the ATM to get cash for the anti-venom securer. We were even able to spend the night out front of his parents house in a gated lot.

The treatment was ongoing until 1am.

A snake Manuel found in Cofre de Perote

The next morning we had breakfast with Manuel after he made sure Sombrita was looking good as new. He told us about all the mountains he climbed and some cool spots to see. We decided we would go camping that weekend at the tallest peak in Mexico, Pico de Orizaba.

Manuel and his girlfriend, Ana came with us to our soon to be favorite campsite in Mexico. We had big fires and celebrated Manuel’s upcoming birthday. We all drove their truck up the mountain as far as we could then followed them on their mountain bikes back down to the campsite.

Well you can’t have the good times without the bad times, and staying up at Orizaba was all the sweeter for it. We’re glad we booked it down that mountain, found antivenom and a new friend. Sombrita’s back to 100, and now sports a badass rattlesnake scar. Traveling with pets is wild!

We also made a YouTube video about our time, check it out!