Elapid snake envenomation in dogs in New South Wales: a review

J Heller, D.J Mellor, J.L Hodgson, SWJ Reid, D.R Hodgson, K.L Bosward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Elapid snake envenomation in dogs is a commonly occurring yet poorly described clinical entity. Twelve species of dangerously venomous elapid snakes are found in New South Wales that are capable of causing disease in dogs. Geographical distribution of these species varies, as does their venom composition and systemic envenomation syndromes produced in target species. Elapid venom may be divided into the components of prothrombin activating enzymes, lipases and peptidic neurotoxins. Each species of elapid snake may possess venom components that fit any or all of these classifications. The action of these venom components may result in neurotoxic (pre-synaptic and post-synaptic), haemotoxic (red-cell destruction and coagulation disturbance), cardiovascular, myotoxic and secondary nephrotoxic effects. Marked variability may occur in venom composition between and within snake species, resulting in varying toxicity between species and also potentially unreliable clinical syndromes following envenomation. The existence of certain components consistently within the venom of each snake species allows the broad definition of basic pathological processes and clinicopathological changes resulting from snake species-specific envenomation and these are discussed. Diagnosis of snake envenomation is unreliable if based on clinical signs alone and the use of these signs in conjunction with history, physical examination and laboratory investigation, including snake venom detection kits, is recommended. Treatment of systemic envenomation should be undertaken with initial effective first aid and subsequent administration of snake species-specific antivenom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-479
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007

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