Retrospective study of snake envenomation in 155 dogs from the Onderstepoort area of South Africa.J S Afr Vet Assoc. 2004 Dec; 75(4):169-72.JS
A retrospective study was undertaken to evaluate the incidence, signalment, haematological and biochemical changes, therapy, and outcome of dogs presented to the Outpatients section of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital for confirmed snake envenomation. Three hundred and seventy-six records of dogs presented for snake envenomation from 1998 to 2002 were reviewed and 155 were selected on the basis of there being a positively identified snake. The 2 most commonly encountered snake envenomations in dogs were puff-adders (Bitis arietans) and snouted cobras (Naja annulifera annulifera). The majority of cases (56%) occurred in the autumn (March to May), with most being bitten by puff-adders. Dogs were 3 to 168 months old with a median of 36 months. No sex predilection was identified. Ten per cent of cases died because of the snake envenomation. Fifty-seven per cent and 43% of snakebites were puff-adders and cobras, respectively. There was no difference in mortality between the 2 groups of snakes. Of the cobras 60% were the snouted cobra, 14% Mozambique spitting cobra, and 24% rhinkals. Swelling in the area of the bite, usually the face and forequarters, was the primary clinical abnormality. Significant haematological findings were leukocytosis (median 17.3 x 10(9)/l; range 0.4-44), neutrophilia (median 13.6 x 10(9)/l; range 0.3-39.9), band neutrophilia (median 0.4 x 10(9)/l; range 0-5.32), and thrombocytopaenia (median 124 x 10(9)/l; range 3-555). Dogs envenomated by a puff-adder and Mozambique spitting cobra had a greater degree of thrombocytopaenia: median of 68 and 66, respectively, versus 243 for the cobra group. The most commonly used treatments were intravenous fluids, antibiotics and glucocorticoids. Thirty-eight dogs were treated with polyvalent antiserum: 9 for puff-adder envenomation and 29 for cobra envenomation. Only 2 of the dogs that received antisera died, both of them of cobra envenomation. The study concluded that snake envenomation in dogs is associated with high morbidity but moderate mortality rate and that the most significant haematological abnormality is thrombocytopaenia.