Management of Clinical Snake Bite in Dogs and Cats
The major clinical effects of Australian elapid snake envenomation are neurotoxicity and coagulopathy. Human patients appear to have greater susceptibility to the coagulopathic effects but are less susceptible to the neurotoxic effects, when compared to dogs and cats. The envenomation syndrome in dogs tends to be different than cats. Dogs often demonstrate clinical signs prior to the onset of paralysis, such as vomiting, and can have very rapid progression of neurotoxicity while cats do not tend to have preparalytic signs and have a much slower progression of clinical signs overall. The optimal approach to diagnosis and treatment of Australian snake bites in dogs and cats has yet to be determined and a true understanding of incidence, current management practices, and outcome is needed.
Crotalinae and less common, Elapidae, envenomations occur in dogs and cats throughout the United States. The most common clinical signs of Crotalinae envenomation include local pain and swelling as well as coagulopathy, while the most common symptoms of Elapidae envenomation include neuromuscular weakness and hemolysis in the dog. In general, rattlesnake bites are more severe than copperhead or water moccasin bites. Veterinary antivenoms are regulated by the USDA, however human antivenoms are used in an off-label manner. Survival following envenomation is good; however, morbidity may be improved with antivenom administration.