Surviving snakebite against all the odds…

February 5, 2012

Cows, Emergency Dogs

What a fascinating week it has been… It hasn’t been as busy which is really nice for a change.

We all took advantage of the situation and turned it into BRING YOUR PETS TO WORK week.

Here are Licorice & Kay, owned by Karen (one of our vet nurses)

Licorice & kye

I had discovered a lump growing on my own dog’s stump.

Poor Shepo. He had been licking his stump excessively and not allowing me to fully assess it. He loves to shake his stump so I thought he must have knocked it on something. I dragged him and his cute stump with me to work on Tuesday and got Alana to do the works on him. She did a great job at removing the main lump plus a few other benign ones he had. We decided it is best to get the lump on his tail checked out by a pathologist.

It was quite entertaining to see how nervous I make my colleagues. It is never easy operating on a fellow staff’s pet because you dread the worst happening. Thankfully Shepo made a smooth recovery and I had to send him home early because he woofed the clinic down. The histopathology report on his lump came back saying it was a benign lump. His lump was referred to as a ‘collagenous hamartoma’.

My pooch had a fancy type of lump that I have never heard off.

How odd? I was just happy to know it was benign!

Shepo’s irritating lump on the stump

Shepo's tail lump

While Alana was operating on Shepo, I was called out to a property to examine a cow with retained placenta post calving. The farmer was worried because he had lost a cow with retained membranes the week before.

I arrived on the property and was waiting for the owner to meet me when my breath was taken away by the smallest calf I have ever seen.

It turns out to be a one day old twin. I fell in love with it. It was just so small and adorable. As for the cow, the owner had already successfully pulled out the retained placenta. After examining the cow and ensuring she didn’t have any more membranes attached to her uterus, I gave him a handout that thoroughly discussed our vet recommendations on prevention and treatment of retained membranes.

This is the calf quickly getting up as it noticed me approaching it.

Midget calf

A close up: So petite and adorable. I called him/her ‘midget calf’

twin calf
You can run but you can’t escape from posing with me Midget!

I think the farmer was fascinated with my obsession with the calf even though he agreed it was the smallest he has ever seen.

me and the twin

Midget joins mom and is relieved to be free from me.

so tiny

Wednesday came, it was a very quiet day. I had to leave work half an hour early to make a doctor’s appointment. One of the vet nurses had just taken a call from a very distraught owner and had advised her to bring dog in URGENTLY.  I told my colleagues I would be back to pick up the afterhours phone as I was on emergency call and take over any cases in hospital.

When I walked back into work after my appointment, I was baffled. There was this staffy on the surgery table that was intubated & on oxygen therapy.

A total of 4 staff members (2 vets and 2 vet nurses) were working on her.

She had blood coming out of her nose and anus. My colleagues quickly updated me on her situation. She was being treated for snakebite envenomation. She had already been given one vial of antivenin. She had been resuscitated only minutes before. I jumped in and took over her care as it was my duty on call. My dedicated staff members didn’t want to leave and kept trying to help until I was able to completely manage her on my own. I then gave her ANOTHER vial of antivenin and monitored her heart rate & breathing closely.

Her temperature got too high, about 40.5 degrees. I started cooling her down with wet towels, ice packs and a fan. At that stage, she was in an unconscious coma-like state. Her pupils were miotic and non responsive to light. As soon as her second vial of antivenin kicked in, I started to notice small signs of responsiveness. She started to gain her blink reflex and would occasionally suddenly start paddling. I let her owners pat her before they went home even though she was in an awful state. I just wanted to ensure they got to see her one last time because her prognosis was very guarded.

Needless to say, it was then almost impossible to get her owners to leave.

Unfortunately, I had to encourage them to go home to get some rest so that I could focus on monitoring their baby Roxy. I always feel so terribly guilty when I ask owners to leave. I just find I perform better in the absence of the owners. My focus is the patient and not trying to soothe the owners during the whole ordeal. It is hard to answer all the questions of the concerns owners when you managing a very critical patient that can crash at any one moment.

As soon as the owners left, Roxy lifted her head and started swallowing. We had to extubate her. I could not believe my eyes. Roxy must have felt that her mom was leaving. This was the critical period. She could have easily collapsed and required resuscitation again. Shockingly, she was getting very stubborn about jumping off the surgery table. I moved her to a comfortable cage and she started blowing bloody bubbles from her nose. I cut down her fluid rates and started her on gastric protectants.

I checked on her throughout the night & early morning and she looked ace. She made an incredible recovery.

I kept her hostage for an extra day in hospital because she still had blood in her urine. Roxy then made a big statement declaring she is overdue to go home and chewed her drip out. We are all in awe of Roxy’s strong will to survive. She defeated all the odds!!! Needless to say, she was the highlight of the week for everyone involved at my practice.

This is Roxy 2 hours after she recovered. She is looking very drowsy and unhappy in the cage.

Ruby unimpressed

Roxy is very camera shy. She sure loves to wag her tail…

Ruby survives snaebite

All my attempts to get a great photo with Roxy failed. This is the best picture I could get 😦


I am on call this weekend and it has been fairly steady. I was mostly called out to treat dog binges. First I had to admit Flash for chewing a ice gel pack that may have contained anti-freeze (ethylene glycol) which can lead to kidney failure 72 hours post ingestion. He was put on iv fluids to flush him out.

He howled like a hyenna as he hated being left alone in his cage.

This is him today still on a scavenging mission. He needs 24/7 supervision-worse than a child I tell ya!


Flash raiding the clinic trash. Don’t worry it was empty!

Flash diving in the trash

Flash giving the tragic look for having the e-collar on & being kept in a cage. Sorry buddy, you tried to pull your drip out twice already!

Helpless flash

Finally, I promised to talk to you all about Sky this week but will have to postpone her story for another week. Why? Well it is because her owner couldn’t bring her in for her revisit last Friday. I will be seeing her tomorrow instead and can’t wait to see how she is feeling and to tell you all about it in the next issue.

I will also be talking about Spot. I  treated him yesterday and he also had an eye problem. It will all be about EYES next week.


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About Rayya

Hi I am Dr. Rayya. I created this site to take you on a journey of my life as a vet! I hope to inspire you, teach you, learn from you. Most importantly help pet owners and animals around the world by sharing pictures, videos and posts from my everyday experiences.

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35 Comments on “Surviving snakebite against all the odds…”

  1. Rosie Scribblah Says:

    Wonderful blog, thanks 🙂


  2. Gretchen Del Rio Says:

    Loving animals as you do, it must be the best to be immersed in their care. Very demanding, but well rewarding. I do so enjoy hearing about your animal adventures.


  3. Jennifer Forsyth, VMD Says:

    Good job with the snake bite!!! I love your stories 🙂


  4. Donkey Whisperer Farm Says:

    I am grateful to God that Western Washington has no poisonous snakes 🙂


  5. magsx2 Says:

    I’m so glad to hear that everything went well for Shepo, it did look like a nasty lump.
    I love the little calf, “Midget” just so gorgeous.

    It is unbelievable the will that must of been involved for Roxy to recover, maybe the thought of not seeing “Mum” again pushed a bit of adrenaline in the right places, but whatever it was, I’m sure the owners will be overjoyed to have their baby back.

    It certainly has been a very bad season for snakes this summer, they do seem to be showing themselves more, even in very public areas. 😦


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Mags. I was pretty relieved my husband discovered shepo’s lump as it was in a very odd spot. Midget is way cuter in the flesh. We have had very few snakebites so far. Wow sounds like your having too many snakes cruising around in Queensland.


  6. Julia Swancy Says:

    wow, what a week! that is an adorable and tiny calf, how sweet! I’d love to know more about preventing retained placenta… I don’t think we’ve had that happen but it’s possible with a herd of mama cows… do you work with herbs at all? I wonder if some of the herbs that work in humans would also help cows. I wouldn’t want to just try something though, I know some plants are fine for one species and poisonous for another!


  7. Cowboy Says:

    Howdy Doc –

    I’m not sure how the calf let you hold her, they usually shy away from people unless mom is with them. Great photo though, it’s a picture we won’t see often. Leave it to you to be the one to get it !

    A nice array of client write-ups including Roxy. For such a small dog, I’m surprised Roxy made made it through.

    Always enjoy reading about what’s going on in your world……..


    • Rayya Says:

      Howdy cowboy. Ya the poor little calf really tried to escape but its short strides made it an easy target. Mom was in the crush, otherwise she would have had her say! Hehehe…Roxy blew us all away with hee strong will to live. I am always thrilled to know my blog continues to interest you. 🙂


  8. sheriffsmith Says:

    Fantastic blog … makes me smile!


  9. Alison Says:

    What I admire most about you guys is that you have to be a specialist for everything and for so many different species. If it was a human we’d just go to a specialist depending on our ailment, but you vets have to be all-rounders on all critters! Love it 🙂


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Alison. Thanks for highlighting a very important fact about vets. We are clinicians, surgeons, consultants & so much more. Vets are becoming more specialized as there is s bigger demand fir that nowadays. I really appreciate your continued support. 😀


  10. Tricia Booker Photography Says:

    Wow, what a week of adventures! Your blog is wonderful and I appreciate the detail you provide and learning more about animal care through your experiences!


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Tricia. Thanks heaps for the ace feedback. It always makes me happy to know my blogs are serving their purpose: increasing public awareness about pet health. 🙂


  11. Elin Says:

    Wow, that was such an amazing story about Roxy, well done!!!! Im so happy for you, Roxy and her owners that she pulled through 🙂
    And Im happy to hear that Sheppo had a benign lump… Yay!


    • Rayya Says:

      Thanks umbilicus. Ya roxy was trully a big win for all parties involved. Sheri is recovering well but I couldn’t stop him from wagging his cute stump. 😉


  12. Jodi Stone Says:

    So awesome when we hear good news, I admit I was on the edge of my seat with my hands over my mouth praying that poor Roxy would make it, even though your title indicatedt that she did. 🙂


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Jodi. Very good point, my title was a give away. I will definitely rethink my future titles to keep you even more captivated in the future. 🙂


  13. Gail Schechter Says:

    just nominated you for the versatile blogger award…


  14. 2browndawgs Says:

    So glad Roxy made it OK. I am happy we don’t have to worry about snakes here. That calf sure was cute.


  15. nicole marie story Says:

    can’t wait for your segment on eyes!
    AND what an exciting job! getting called out to a farm?! to canoodle with a baby cow? well, cure and canoodle. 🙂 thank you for saving our animals, rayya! adore you! xxx


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Nicole. I love your comments. Always put a huge smile on my face. I only needed to treat the calf’s mom. I’ll be writing my next post soon.:-)


  16. Misty Shores Chesapeakes Says:

    I love the new look of your blog!

    I have an award for you, check it out here


  17. Slowvelder Says:

    I am so glad your snake bite victim survived – against the odds. Well done to you and your team! Midget calf is just the cutest thing ever 🙂 A great post.



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