Oct 29, 2020 – Dogs and Snake Bites

Our sweet miniature Australian Shepherd, Ellie Mae Rose, came in at lunch carrying her front right leg. It looked broken.

I laid her down to feel her bones. Nothing felt broken. I started looking for a wound. I found a puncture wound on her shoulder.

Fang marks

I immediately gave her a Benadryl for any allergic reaction she might have. I also gave her pain medication, but you should not do that unless directly instructed by your veterinarian. The reason for this is some medicines will interact with the medication your pet will receive at the veterinarian. Always inform the doctor about any medication you have given.

Feeling bad

I waited a few hours. Most dog snake bites are “dry bites” meaning that the snake did not inject venom into the pet. However, Ellie did not improve. In fact, her swelling kept increasing, spreading towards her neck. I decided to give her IV antivenin.

First thing to do is shave her leg to place and IV catheter.

Her right leg was swollen, so I used the left leg to place the catheter.

Here is her catheter all taped in. You can see by her face that she feels terrible.

The antivenin is kept in the freezer and is expensive. Each bag contains 50 ml of antivenin which is derived from horses who have been vaccinated for snake bites.

A special filter is required to give the antivenin.
All finished.

We opted to bring her back home for administration. I can do that because I am a veterinarian and can monitor her for any reactions. I can also maintain her IV line.

This is Ellie with my son and daughter, administering the antivenin.

This is a very expensive procedure. The antivenin alone costs around $400. Then you have staff to pay, supplies to purchase, and continued care.

There is also a risk of giving the antivenin. Any animal can have a reaction to it, so close monitoring during administration is crucial.

Fall and spring are both dangerous times for snake bites. Fall snakes are out hunting to get lots of food prior to winter hibernation. Then in spring they are emerging from hibernation hunting bevy they are hungry.

There is a vaccine available to help prevent the effects of envenomation. If you are in a snake area, it may be something you should look into.

Be safe and watch your step!

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