Snake envenomation in dogs in New South Wales

J Heller, KL Bosward, JL Hodgson, F Cole, SWJ Reid, DR Hodgson, DJ Mellor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Objective To obtain baseline data on the prevalence of elapid snake envenomation in dogs presented to veterinary practices in New South Wales and to assess attitudes of veterinarians to this clinical entity.Procedure A mailed questionnaire, sent to all veterinary clinics within New South Wales, was utilised to collect epidemiological information regarding elapid snake envenomation in dogs.Results A response rate of 68% was obtained and a yearly prevalence of snake envenomation in dogs across New South Wales veterinary clinics was estimated as 0.31%. The most common species reported to be responsible for envenomation within NSW was the Red Bellied Black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) followed by the Brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis) and then Tiger snake (Notechis scutatus). The reported envenomation syndromes caused by these common snake species were perceived to be similar for Brown and Tiger snakes but differed for Red Bellied Black snakes. Diagnosis of snake envenomation was based predominantly on the recognition of clinical signs. Specific diagnostic tests, such as venom detection kits, were used infrequently. The most common treatment was reported to be a combination of intravenous fluid therapy and antivenom, and monitoring of response to this treatment was usually through assessment of clinical signs. Survival after antivenom administration was reported to be highest for Red Bellied Black snake species. Survival was perceived to be associated with time between envenomation and presentation to the veterinary clinic and with antivenom administration.Conclusions Current attitudes and perceptions of veterinarians have been defined. Diagnosis of species-specific snake envenomation is shown to be made on the basis of clinical signs which are, however, reported as similar for each species. Clearer definition of these envenomation syndromes and identification of accessible diagnostic testing procedures are needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-292
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


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