Snake bite poisoning is common in dogs as by nature dogs are curious, restless and usually explore their sorroundings with their nose and mouth. Snake bites are extremely painful and life threatening. The bites of non venomous can turn venomous if not treated. Snake bites occour mostly in face or extremities of dogs that stay outdoor . Snakes usually hibernate during winter months and are active during summer and so it takes place mostly during spring and summer months.
The above picture shows a dog recovering from snake bite on the fourth day of being bitten.
Snake can be poisonous or non poisonous.
Poisonous snakes are divided into
(a) Elapine (neurotoxic): Examples are Cobra, Mamba, Death Adder, Brown snake, Coral
(b) Vaperine (haemotoxic): Examples are Puff Adder, Rattle snake, European Adder
Neurotoxic signs are flaccid paralysis, respiratory paralysis. In case of haemotoxic venom, the toxins are released in the blood. Arterial thrombosis and necrosis are seen.
How to differentiate between poisonous and non poisonous snake?
In poisonous snake bite small rows of biting area along with two deep biting area on the sides are seen. In case of non-poisonous snake bite two rows of small biting areas are seen.
Poisonous snakes usually have a triangular or arrowhead-shaped head except in case of coral snake. Most poisonous snakes have vertical, elliptical (cat like) pupil whereas in case of non-poisonous snakes, the pupil are round and located in the center of the eye.
Most poisonous snakes has single row of scales on the underside of the tail, except in case of poisonous coral snake, which has a double row. A double row is common in most non-poisonous snakes.
Poisonous snake has sensory pit or hole located between its eyes and nostrils where as non-poisonous snakes lack these specialized sensory pits.
What are the signs and symptoms of snake poisoning?
Signs and symptoms depends on the number of times the dog was bitten, amount of snake venom in the dog. Bleeding occurs from the punctured wounds and the bitten area become swollen. There is bruising of the bitten area along with haemorrhage's on gums, lips and other areas of skin. In the initial period, the dog may collapse. Salivation, shock, trembling, vomiting occurs . The dog exhibit weakness, dilated pupils, difficulty in breathing, nausea, lethargy, flaccid paralysis and other neurological signs. There is possibility of blood in the urine.
How is snake bite diagnosed?
(b) Clinical signs
(c) Fang marks
(d) Blood count
(f) EKG testing
How to treat snake bite poisoning in dogs?
Treatment should be given as soon as possible. Check the dog thoroughly to see if there is more than one wound. Do not wash the wound because it will increase venom absorption. Ice or other cooling agents should not be applied on the bite. Open the wound with a knife and sprinkle potassium permanganate crystals or damp Epsom salt. In case of rapid swelling apply a tourniquet above the biting site in the site between the bite and the heart. The movement of the dog should be limited. Take the dog to a vet as soon as possible. Polyvalent antivenin serum is given along with antibiotics, antihistamines, intravenous drip, tetanus toxoid, plasma expanders, diazepam.
How to prevent and control snake bite in dogs?
Rattle snake vaccines are available for dogs and cats but the vaccine remains controversial. To prevent and control snake bite in dogs the following should be done:
(a)Keep your yard clean, tidy, remove weeds and the grasses cut so that the snake cannot hide in those places
(b)Keep your pet away from holes and bushes where snakes usually rest
(c)Clean your yard from fallen fruits, bird food as rodents attracted to these and presence of rodents attracts the snake
(d)Plug up holes if you find holes in the ground
(e) If you see a snake head back the path you came
(f) Don't leave water containers lying around the yard
(g)Get some knowledge about the snake species prevelant in your area so that in case your dog is bitten, you can identify the snake.