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Snake Bites and Hounds

That time of year, as the hound season comes ever so closer to the close of the season and the weather starts to turn a reminder to look out for signs of snake bite.

Many of us are aware of the danger signs and treatment for snake bite in our dogs but as the hot weather is with us it is important to remind ourselves of the symptoms and response if we think our dog has been bitten.

The most important thing to remember is that NOT all veterinary clinics carry antivenom it is therefore critical that you phone before heading to the vets, this also allows the vet time to organise other patients so that your dog can be attended to as soon as you arrive.

Symptoms may vary slightly depending on the type of snake and the effectiveness of the bite.

Main Signs To Look For:

  • Collapse followed by apparent recovery
  • Lethargy
  • Dilated pupils
  • Muscle tremors/shaking
  • Reduced eye blinking
  • Weakness/ wobbliness (Ataxia)
  • Complete paralysis
  • Loss of control of bladder and bowel
  • Irregular bleeding from the nose, mouth or bite site
  • Discoloured or dark urine ( often bloody )

Remember dogs may not show symptoms immediately even though they may have received a lethal amount of venom, the longer the dog is left untreated the higher the chance of fatality.

Your vet is able to do a blood clotting test to ascertain the likelihood of envenomation. Studies have shown that bitches that were snake bitten during pregnancy had a high level of severe mastitis and many lost whole litters, combining the use of Histamil (antihistamine) and Prednisone ( cortisone) with the Antivenin reduced this dramatically.

Unfortunately over the years we have had more than our share of dogs snake bitten, I always give an antihistamine immediately and request that the vet also include prednisone along with the antivenin.

I once had a dog that was on her 3rd snake bite (tiger snake) that exhibited a multitude of symptoms, by the time I got to the vet which is approximately 45 min away the symptoms had reduced dramatically. Given that she had been treated twice before with antivenin it was decided to treat her with IV fluids to support the kidneys and give her a hefty dose of Histamil and prednisone.

She recovered and was discharged the next morning. Theory being she had built some form of immunity to the venom( not that  recommend multiple bites to build immunity), There was no scientific evidence that this was the case.

The thing that I have witnessed is that every bite presents differently, some by a little and some by a lot even when the same type of snake is involved. Any dog suspected snake bitten should be taken to a Vet immediately.

It will only cost a consultation fee for a clotting test, don’t wait and see.

While some bites are dry bites envenomation without treatment is more often than not fatal .

As snake venom is carried through the lymph nodes and not the bloodstream it can only move through the body with movement, the best course of action when snake bite is suspected is to restrict movement by carrying your dog to the vehicle and get them to a vet.