Poisonous Snake Bites My Dog?

48 Hours after Poisonous snake bites my dogWhat do I do if a poisonous snake bites my dog? Today, I saw a unique case of a snakebite in a Terrier named Jess. We see these fairly commonly and I thought it would be an interesting article. In Tennessee, there are four snakes considered to cause potential problems in pets. They are collectively termed “pit vipers” and consist of the following: Northern and Southern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortix), Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), Western Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) and the Western Pigmy Rattlesnake (Sisturus miliarius). For more info on poisonous snakes in Tennessee, click here.

The Bite and Venom

The venom is not considered more toxic during the summer months; however, snakes show increased aggression and venom yield with environmental warming and longer photoperiod (as in the spring and summer). The maximum venom yields occur during the hottest months of summer. Therefore, this is the time when most of our pets are most susceptible to snake bites.It is possible that a life-threatening envenomation may occur with no local clinical signs other than the puncture wounds themselves. Local tissue signs of pit viper envenomation include puncture wounds, one to six from a single bite, which may be bleeding. Rapid onset of pain may ensue with progressive edema, ecchymosis and petechiation. Tissue necrosis may occur, particularly in envenomations to areas without a significant subcutaneous tissue mass. The presence of fang marks does not indicate that envenomation has occurred, only that a bite has taken place. It must be reiterated that the severity of local signs does not necessarily reflect the severity of the systemic envenomation.

First Aid

What do you do if you think a snake has just bitten your dog? Well, people ask all the time, do we need to know what kind of snake? Unless your dog killed the snake, you will never know and you will never be able to find out! So, the answer is no!! As a veterinarian,  you treat what you find! However, first aid is definitely important. Keep your pet calm as best you can. However, more importantly, YOU remain CALM. Drama often makes the situation much worse. Just get your pet to your veterinarian as quickly as possible. No other first aid is really going to alter the outcome at this point.

At Vet after Poisonous Snake Bites My Dog

You have two options at this point that should be considered depending on your budget and how much YOU want to do to lessen the severity of the snakebite.

Conservative Therapy: Basically, fluids, antibiotics and pain medicine!

Aggressive Therapy: Anti-Venom plus Conservative Therapy!

Two companies, Fort Dodge and Wyeth Ayerst Laboratories produce antivenin. Veterinary clinics and human hospitals in areas that have a high population of pit vipers have this product on hand. Many owners want to carry this product with them, but because of the intravenous administration and instability of the product, it is recommended that a veterinarian give the anti-venom.

Cat Perineal Urethrostomy

I saw a very interesting case the other day that will appeal to all cat lovers. This kitty is 14 years old and presented with painful and inappropriate urination. Sounds like a simple, straightforward case of UTI/FUS and/or stones. Oh, how wrong I was! Upon further exam, this kitty had a large mass on the sheath of his penis. The mass was about the size of a nickel. I thought for sure this was a tumor, most likely a squamous cell carcinoma. We decided that cat perineal urethrostomy would be the best course of treatment.

Indications for Cat Perineal Urethrostomy

Recurring Stone Blockage

Cat perineal urethrostomy is indicated when the urethral opening is too narrow or persistently obstructed. This procedure is most often used in male cats with feline urologic syndrome prone to urethral obstruction from protein plugs, bladder “sand”, or bladder stones that enter the urethra and obstruct urine flow. While some cats with these problems respond to diet and medication, others experience recurrent episodes of urinary obstruction. In these cats, surgery is the best treatment.

Tumors of Penis/Sheath

Cat perineal urethrostomy is also indicated in cases of severe penile trauma, tumors or scarring that does not allow for normal passage of urine.

Complications of PU Surgery

Anytime you operate on vital structures, serious complications may occur. The most serious complications include stricture formation and scarring at the surgical site. Other complications include post-operative pain, infection, bleeding, and behavioral changes.

Post Operative Care

Reduced activity and protection of the surgical site are mandatory for successful outcomes. Cats must wear an E-collar for the duration of the recovery period. This is an absolute MUST! Sutures are removed in 10-14 days and usually require sedation. In this case, the biopsy report came back as chronic infection and trauma-no cancer!

For more info, click here!

Yearly Heartworm Test?

Yearly heartworm test?

“Why do veterinarians recommend a yearly heartworm test?”

Great question!

Clients ask me this question all the time.

Is it to make money? No!

Here are a couple of reasons why I recommend a yearly heartworm test.


Giving preventive to dogs infected with heartworms can lead to a rare but possibly fatal reaction in your dog.  I have never seen this type of reaction in my practice; however, I am aware of other veterinarians who have. Most of the time these dogs either die or incur a host of medical issues, pain, and suffering. A yearly heartworm test ensures safety.


Many of us do not take our own medications as directed! Why would we expect anything different out of our pet? Sometimes, we’re busy, forget, or just miss a dose. Testing is the surest way to monitor compliance. Even if you never miss a dose, nothing prevents your dog from vomiting the medication. A yearly heartworm test monitors compliance.

Early Detection

A yearly heartworm test allows for earlier diagnosis of infection. Early diagnosis and treatment gives veterinarians the best chance to cure your pet.  We can institute treatment before irreversible heart and lung damage occur. Early detection and treatment are best with a yearly heartworm test. When considering all the reasons, this reason is the best argument for yearly heart worm testing. Why? All preventives are NOT 100% effective 100% of the time!


Most reputable drug companies guarantee their heartworm preventives. In cases where dogs become infected while on a preventive, drug companies often provide funds to pay for treatment.  Drug companies will often pay for the entire treatment. This guarantee will be honored as long as the client can document a yearly heartworm test and purchase of yearly heartworm preventive.

More Info on Heartworms and Yearly Heartworm Test, click here!

Pet Alternative Medicine?

Why do I practice alternative medicine for pets?

Recently, a client asked me how I got involved in the field of pet alternative medicine.

This led me to revisit my past attitudes and beliefs about veterinary medicine and compare them to my present practice.

The fact that I practice pet alternative medicine at all is somewhat ironic. Earlier in my career, the thought of incorporating pet alternative medicine into my practice would have been an absolute joke.

There was no way I envisioned myself not being an absolute, straightforward, “by the book” veterinarian.

Mastering pet alternative medicine never even crossed my mind.

I was even questioned in the past about alternative treatments.  My responses were usually “I don’t know!”,  or even worse, “That won’t help!” and “Why would you waste your money on that?”

My attitude about alternative medicine has drastically changed from that of my early years as a clinical veterinarian. I have seen many animals improve through the use of alternative medicine, many of which were not getting results from standard western veterinary care. I have seen quality of life of many animals improve dramatically through the use of alternative medicine.

Although I still consider myself primarily a Western practitioner, I am fully convinced that the best practitioners are capable of intertwining Western Medicine with alternative treatments to get better results and offer clients and their pets better options. I am sure of this.

Get to know me and see for yourself how and why my attitudes changed.

Learn why I feel my practice has greatly improved because of these changes.


Abandoned Baby Deer!

The Dilemma?

Commonly, I am faced with this scenario! A client finds an abandoned baby deer, a fawn, and wants to help. The issue is: “What is the best solution?”  Watch this video of a beautiful fawn and I will tell you. You may not like the answer, but it sure is the best way to handle the problem. You will love the pics!!