Crouching Tiger, hidden snake

Tiger is a very adventurous fourteen month old cat who belongs to one of our nurses Jess. One weekend Tiger managed to catch a snake and brought it back home for his family while it was still alive! Tiger's family was not terribly impressed! Jess was concerned that Tiger had been bitten by the snake although there were no puncture marks evident. Initial blood tests did not show any changes however overnight Tiger started to vomit and seemed quite stressed. The next morning Jess brought Tiger back into the clinic. He had vomited all night, his pupils were dilated and he was very subdued. He was also salivating and urinating a lot. Blood tests were repeated and this time the results showed significant changes during the blood clotting time and high levels of muscle enzymes were evident. These changes along with Tiger's clinical signs and exposure to a snake all indicated that Tiger was suffering from a snake bite.

Treatment started immediately with snake antivenom. Tiger was put on intravenous fluids to maintain his blood pressure and to protect his kidneys from the effects of the venom. He was given pain relief and was monitored closely. Tiger's blood clotting time improved after the first dose of antivenom but was still very abnormal so another dose was required. He remained on intravenous fluids over the next three days and soon he gradually started to improve. His appetite returned to normal, his pupils returned to normal size and he started to behave normal again - naughty and playful!

Tiger has since made a full recovery and will be spending the rest of the summer indoor with Jess and her family.

Snake bite is a very real risk for our pets over the warmer months. If you even suspect your pet has been bitten then seek help from your veterinarian immediately. Sometimes they will start to show signs straight away but other times the effects can be delayed. The sooner the diagnosis is made and treatment started the better the chances of survival. Sometimes after initial stabilization your pet will need to be referred to a veterinary emergency clinic for ongoing care. Some of the signs that your pet may start to show after a snake bite include trembling, vomiting, salivating, dilated pupils, red urine, weakness, difficulty breathing and bleeding. If possible avoid at risk areas for snakes but be aware that in our area of Melbourne snakes can be living in our backyards.

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