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Snake Bites - Prognosis, Treatment and Integrative Care

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    September 20, 2015 5:18 PM EDT

    Nearly 1 million animals suffer from snakebites annually in the U.S., and mortality rates are unnecessarily high for pets injured in this way. By understanding immediate action steps and the treatment options available, veterinary professionals and pet owners can aid the affected pet's recovery and ensure that a snakebite wound is not fatal. tPEMF offers an effective, noninvasive method for speeding wound recovery.


    Snakebites are treated based on severity, which is determined by seen symptoms. Typically, one must identify the harmful snake and its agent (venom) and eliminate it from the body before beginning wound treatment. The anti-infection treatment includes application of antibiotic drugs simultaneously with antivenin, which eliminates the spread of toxins while preventing infections. Taking immediate action can help prevent or reduce tissue necrosis.

    Treatment considerations

    The forms of immediate treatment recommended in the past, such as tourniquets, aspirating the venom, and applying ice, have proven to be both ineffective and, in fact, detrimental to the recovery process. Immediate actions should be taken, but should focus on immobilizing the affected limb and identifying the perpetrating snake to help streamline treatment with relevant information. 

    Conventional treatment

    Though treatments are based on the severity of the patient's condition, conventional treatments for snakebites include pain medication, intravenous fluids, antihistamines, steroids, antibiotics, blood transfusions, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), and antivenin — though not all patients bitten by venomous snakes are envenomated.


    While there is currently no central data resource for the numbers of dogs bitten annually or the number of fatalities, dogs who have been bitten are estimated to have a 20 percent fatality rate across the US. A study showed mortality rates for treated patients frequently dependent on the age of the dog and type of snake, ranging from 1% to 35%.

    Integrative care options to consider

    After initial treatment of snakebites to ensure survival, home treatment through tPEMF has proven successful for accelerating healing of the tissue and wound, and preventing necrosis, even in patients with wounds in problematic areas that pose challenges to healing due to constant motion. Treated patients showed increased healing with no infections in only a few weeks. The noninvasive and positive nature of tPEMF therapy has established it as a growing treatment method for a variety of injuries and wounds.

    Here are two case examples of the application of tPEMF in the management of soft tissue injuries including a degloving injury and a dog bitten by a snake:

    For more on tPEMF and its applications, view this free webinar - available for viewing On Demand and approved for 1 hour of CE credit by AAVSB RACE, NY State, and by the NJVMA.

  • September 24, 2015 7:34 AM EDT

    Here is an excerpt of the presentation on the topic of Venomous Snakes (available for viewing On Demand) by Michael Schaer, DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC. In this segment he explains various factors that impact severity of snakebites and provides several case examples of dogs and cats that were bitten by snakes: