Sad day Print E-mail
News - Briewe
Saturday, 24 February 2018 13:23
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Alta Fagan writes to dr Liesel van der Merwe:
We had a terrible day yesterday. Our Jack Russel attacked a yellow cape cobra. He wouldn’t stop or listen to us. He killed the snake eventually. In this struggle, he had the snake’s head in his mouth. 

I identified a small puncture on his nose. Within about five minutes he started to react strangely. His head was hanging to the one side. He just lied down and a lot of blood came pouring out of his mouth. I thought the snake must have bitten him inside his mouth. He died within a half an hour. Shortly after he lied down he struggled with breathing.

He was a wonderful friend. He used to talk to us and was always just there. The calf which we bottle fed doesn’t want to leave the place where we buried Buddy. He was everyone’s friend.

I feel guilty because I didn’t take him to the vet. When I saw his eyes rolled back and his tongue hanging out I knew he was not going to make it. We stay about 40 minutes’ drive from a vet. Can’t stop feeling guilty.

Do you think the snake pushed a lot of venom into him, for him to pass away so rapidly?
Thank you for listening

Dr Liesel van der Merwe answers:
I am sorry for the loss of your friend and pet.  Unfortunately time is of the essence in getting the anti-venom into a patient and in the smaller patient the venom travels very fast.

Especially because he was bitten near the head, the venom would have travelled very quickly to his nervous system and caused paralysis.

The cause of death is generally paralysis of the breathing muscles. Sometimes, with a smaller amount of venom, the dogs will only show some weakness or general muscle paralysis, causing recumbency for 24 hours before the poison starts wearing off. I have only seen this in bigger dogs. 

There is really nothing you could have done. The anti-venom must be given IV and you would need about at least four to six vials to counteract such a bite. You cannot keep it in reserve in your fridge as it is very costly and expires, even if you could manage an IV injection. 
So, although you may be sad, you needn’t feel guilty.


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