Pit vipers are of the family Crotalinae, and are known by several species: Crotalus (rattlesnakes), Sistrurus (pigmy rattlesnakes and massassauga), and Agkistrodon (copperheads and cottonmouth water moccasins). These snakes have retractable fangs and can be distinguished by the heat-seeking pit located between the nostril and eye on their triangle-shaped heads. Their range is throughout the continental U.S. Bites most often occur in rural areas where these types of snakes are most frequent.
Toxicity of the venom is considered hematoxic, which means that it causes blood poisoning in the victim. Several species have subpopulations with lethal neurotoxic venoms, meaning that the venom attacks the nervous system (e.g., Mojave rattlesnake). The general ranking of severity is: (1) rattlesnakes, (2) moccasins, (3) copperheads.
The venom causes local tissue injury and interferes with coagulation of the blood. It also affects the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Eighty-five percent of bite victims have altered laboratory values and clinically important swelling, with severely low blood pressure from the pooling of blood within the nervous system or pulmonary (lung) vessels. Fluid loss is secondary to severe swelling.
In most dogs, there are puncture wounds on the head and forelimbs. In addition, symptoms may be delayed for 8 hours after bite, including:
You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, recent activities and onset of symptoms. Unless you saw the snake bite your pet, the diagnosis may be complicated by the fact that many other things can cause the same symptoms. For example, insect bite, blunt trauma, penetrating wound, animal bite, penetration of foreign body, or a draining abscess can bring about many of the same symptoms of snakebite.
A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Your veterinarian will obtain important information from the blood test and urinalysis. Clotting tests can also indicate the origin of the symptoms, as clotting disorders are often a symptom of snakebite. Your doctor may also conduct an electrocardiogram to evaluate the functioning of your dog’s heart.
Pertaining to the lungs
An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness
The condition of being drowsy, listless, or weak
A record of the activity of the myocardium
The amount of pressure applied by the blood on the arteries.
A localized infection, usually a lesion filled with pus. Can be large or small in size.