Tuffy M., a 12 year old mix breed dog, was running around a canal near his owner’s home and came back bleeding. No one saw what happened. About 1 hour passed from the time he was in the canal to when he arrived at our hospital. Time is of the essence if your pet has been biten by a snake.
Snake bites are extreme emergencies and treated with the utmost priority and importance at all veterinary hospitals. No one is sure what type of snake bit Tuffy. Chances are that it may have been a water moccasin if Tuffy was injured while swimming in a canal.
Once Tuffy arrived at our hospital, he was rushed into the treatment area and Dr. Mendez immediately began her physical exam. The following were her findings:
- ATTITUDE: BAR (Bright, Alert, Responsive)
- Temperature: 102 (normal temperature range for cats and dogs is 101.5 to 102.5)
- Skin: has puncture wounds on the right side of his face just behind the commisure of his lips, has moderate facial swelling with some swelling around his ventral neck.
- ORAL: no bruising seen inside the mouth
- Heart/Lungs: no murmur, no arrhythmia, tachycardic at 180-200, pulse quality is fair
- Remainder of physical examination was unremarkable.
- TDX (Temporary Diagnosis): SNAKE BITE
Dr. Mendez immediately gave an antihistamine subcutaneously (under the skin) and placed an IV (intravenous) catheter. A vial of anitvenom was prepared with sodium chloride and a “slow drip” was started intravenously.
During this phase of treatment, a patient could have an allergic response to the antivenom. The doctor and technician watch the patient carefully by checking mucous membranes and the pinna (inside outer area) of the ear for any signs of redness.
A strong pain medication is administered and antibiotics are started.
Tuffy’s face and neck continued to swell and he seemed very anxious and painful. Another vial of antivenom was prepared and administered intravenously. A technician was assigned to carefully watch Tuffy while he was in intensive care. The technician carefully monitored Tuffy’s vital signs and alered Dr. Mendez to any changes.
Prior to leaving our hospital for the night, Tuffy’s vitals seemed better. He was BAR, pulse quality better, mucous membranes were pink, and he was no longer bleeding from the puncture wounds. His heart rate was slower and more stable. After intensive care treatment in the hospital, Tuffy was sent home to continue with oral antibiotics and pain medication. His caretakers decided to take him home for the night and check him every couple of hours. At this point a snake bite victim can still succumb to his injury.