Boss and the Snake Bite Scare

Boss Wood is a lovely friendly two and a half year old Staffie. Helen Wood and her partner Max look after Boss while their son Gary is at work. Yesterday they took him out for a walk near the fishing lake at Lee Chapel Lane in Basildon. They were walking along a path near the lake with Boss off the lead when suddenly they saw an adder curled up on the path with Boss approaching it. In a split second the snake lunged at Boss but they were initially unaware that Boss had been bitten. They both had mobile phones and took photos of the snake as it disappeared off into undergrowth.

 Snake


After a few minutes Boss became woozy and they realised he had been bitten. Max picked Boss up & ran a mile or so with him in his arms while Helen ran ahead and got the car. They rushed Boss into us at Cherrydown Vets where our vet Kim Woods saw him immediately. Boss was a bit wobbly and his foot was beginning to swell. Because they had pictures of the snake we were able to confirm it was an adder bite rather than an allergic reaction which can present with similar signs. Boss was put on a drip & given steroids to reduce the inflammation as well as an antihistamine injection to prevent an allergic reaction to the venom. He was also given antibiotics and pain relief to make him more comfortable. Despite this treatment the leg continued to swell above the elbow, so it was decided to give him anti-venom. Anti-venom itself can often make an animal very ill by inducing an adverse reaction so it is only used if an adder bite can be confirmed & the animal does not respond to the initial treatment.

Boss responded well and after staying with us overnight he was sent home on antibiotics. We will however need to see him regularly over the next few days as adder bites can cause tissue necrosis (cell death) in the immediate area surrounding the bite, which may require further antibiotics.

Because Boss was brought in to us so quickly it will reduce the chance of any long term effects from the bite. Adder bites are painful, often cause swelling but in rare instances if left untreated, can result in clotting defects, kidney failure and even death. With the start of the warmer weather dog walkers need to keep an eye out for snakes in the undergrowth or basking on paths. We usually see a few dogs each year that are bitten by snakes and we have a blog on our website for further information and advice

What to do if your dog is bitten by a snake – Click HERE

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“The Vet Says……” – Antifreeze Poisoning in Cats and Dogs

As this glorious summer comes to an end, no doubt many of you will be making things are ready for winter. Salt for the path, carrot for the snowman’s nose and of course antifreeze for the car. But beware, antifreeze can be harmful to pets so care needs to be taken. Ethylene glycol is a constituent of antifreeze and is toxic to cats causing acute kidney failure. It is sweet tasting and attracts cats, dogs & children for this very reason.

It can also be found in some cosmetics, some plants, radiator coolant, decorative snow globes & air conditioning coolant. Ethylene Glycol  quickly breaks down once ingested and although the kidneys will deal with some of it, the remainder forms Calcium Oxalate Crystals that block the kidneys causing necrosis. It is the metabolic processes within a cat that form the by-products that are highly toxic to cats. As little as a teaspoon can be fatal in cats or two tablespoons for dogs. Ingestion of even the smallest amount should be treated very seriously and requires immediate veterinary treatment. Cats are about four times as sensitive to this poison as dogs and their smaller size adds to the risk they face.

Symptoms

Within 30 minutes to 12 hours of ingestion,  a cat will show the following….

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Will appear intoxicated, may stumble &  appear dizzy.
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Not eating
  • Excitability

After a time, these symptoms may pass, but your pet is not out of danger as the next stage will set in without treatment. The second stage is usually 12-24 hours after ingestion and symptoms may include

  • Rapid breathing & heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Lethargy

The third stage symptoms include

  • Kidney failure
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Coma

Treatment

It is important that if you can identify the source of the poison, you take it with you or take details of the product including chemical composition. Your vet can do various tests including blood & urine to evaluate toxicity and the extent of damage to the kidneys. The sooner the cat gets treatment, the better it’s prognosis. Early treatment may include inducing vomiting to try and reduce the absorption of the antifreeze.  Further treatment will be to support the kidneys  and sometimes chemicals can be administered to reduce the effect of antifreeze on the kidneys. As well as damage to the kidneys this poison can also affect the central nervous system and it is not possible to reverse this damage.

Prevention

As always, prevention is better than cure. The following simple steps can be taken to reduce the risk…

  • Keep antifreeze sealed and away from pets.
  • If you change the antifreeze on your car, make sure all spills are thoroughly washed away.
  • Do not let your pet drink from puddles.
  • Do not let your pet into your garage or any others.
  • Check your car regularly for leaks.