Dog bitten by rinkhals

This section will help you get first aid treatment protocols incase of an envenomation. This includes indigenous and exotic reptiles. Please do not use this forum for photo sharing, etc.

Dog bitten by rinkhals

Postby rloc » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:30 am

Just thought I'd share something that happened a few hours ago.

I get home and on the way up the driveway only one of my dogs come to greet me over the fence which is odd. The other dog is just sitting on the grass - very odd for behaviour for her. I then notice what seems to be a snake lying on the grass.

I run in and get the hook and box and go outside to have a good look. This takes about 90 seconds.

When I get up close, I find a "dead" snake lying on its back with a broken tail and a fairly big wound to the neck area. The dog is now staggering in a circle and cannot stand properly. I get my other dog inside and phone the vet who is luckily very nearby and she agrees to come immediately. I tell her that this a cobra bite. The phone call takes about 2 minutes.

Going back outside I find the bitten dog has dragged herself onto the porch. She is now totally unable to move but can just lift her head. She is also drooling extensively and has lost control of her bowels.

About 8 minutes later the vet arrives and immediately administers 4 hits of anti venom which was all that was available and sets up a hand respirator.

I now examine the snake which is lying upside down and realise that it is a Rinkhals. Given the extent of the injury to its head I assume that it may actually be dead so I very carefully move it around with hook. The snake is completely unresponsive.

Within about another 5 minutes, the dog is completely unresponsive and cannot breathe withot the ventilator. This a 50kg+ American bulldog.

I then go back to the snake while the vet is busy and find that it is very much alive. On approach it hoods and attempts to strike repeatedly despite the serious head wound. In fact the head wound was more on the neck and did not compromise the snake's ability to gape and strike. It did not attempt to spray me.

Given the extent of the head wound there was no doubt in my mind that the snake would die from infection so I reluctantly made the desicion to kill it.

Long story short, we got the dog to "ER" and we are waiting for the outcome of the treatment.

She had one fang wound in her tongue and the other in her jowl, hence the snake's wound.

My reason for this post it emphasise just how fast the symptoms came on. It took roughly 15 minutes for the dog to be completly incapacitated, and while the anti venom obviously caused at least part of the respiratory issues, I have no doubt that had the vet not arrived at all, the dog would have died within another 15 - 30 minutes.

This very rapid onset of symptoms came as a surprise because I had been under the impression that the onset of severe symptoms would take place only after about 90 minutes so there was my first lesson. This definitely not the case. You will be in serious trouble within 10 to 15 minutes.

My second lesson was that despite a really serious looking neck wound the snake was more than capable of taking me down too. I realise that a snake is only to be considered dead is if you have killed it yourself.

This is the first time I have witnessed the process of envenomation and its effects and also the first time I have had to deal with a badly injured snake which was clearly still very capable of inflicting further damage.

For those of you who have had more exposure to situations such as this, some of my points may be viewed as a bit naive. So be it, but you only learn by experience.

I later measured the snake:

Length = 1.36 metres

Circumference = just under 17 cm

My research has consistently given the absolute maximum length of a Rinkhals to be 1.4 - 1.5 meters and if this is correct, this snake was a true monster.

I hope that sharing this with whoever reads it will drive 2 points home:

You don't have much time AT ALL if envenomated by a Rinkhals or Cobra before you are incapacitated.

Even a badly injured and apparently dead snake can kill you if you are not very careful indeed.

Rob
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Re: Dog bitten by rinkhals

Postby Bushviper » Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:15 pm

The snake would probably have survived the injury. Snakes can recover from wounds other animals will not. I have seen rinkhals with massive shotgun pellet wounds right through them come right. If it was strong enough to rear up and hood you could have released it.

The chances that the dog stopped breathing from the antivenom is pretty slight. They rarely show any reaction to antivenom. Rinkhals venom knocks dogs down very rapidly.

The dog should recover quite well after 4 vials. Keep us posted anyway.
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Re: Dog bitten by rinkhals

Postby Bushbaby » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:12 am

How is the dog doing?

One thing to keep in mind is that a snake will give off a lot more venom when it's fighting for it's life than when it's a quick bite.
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Re: Dog bitten by rinkhals

Postby rloc » Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:51 pm

Hi all - sorry for delayed response

Firstly in the heat of the moment I got the ID wrong - it was a very large Cape Cobra.

My dog died 18 hours later despite another 2 vials of AV and a blood transfusion. She was on a respirator and heavily sedated throughout the entire process as well as being on permanent observation by a vet nurse.

Many thanks to the Noordhoek Vet clinic and to Kenilworth animal hospital - they both operated with a degree of care and efficiency which was truly extraordinary.

This entire exercise cost a shade over R18k. I have read elsewhere that up to 20 vials of AV and an extended hospital stay may be required for an adult who has been severely envenomed so be aware that a bad bite could cost you many 10's of thousands of rands.

thanks to all for your concern
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Re: Dog bitten by rinkhals

Postby Bushviper » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:23 pm

Unfortunately the Cape cobra has the most potent venom of all the cobras. The blood transfusion was not required though. Once the venom has fixed itself inside the body no extra amount of antivenom would have helped. The only other answer would have been days if not weeks on a ventilator.

Sorry for your loss. Snake bite can be very expensive you are right in pointing that out.
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