IVECCS Tip #1: First Aid For Rattlesnake Bites

Last week I attended the 14th International Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Symposium.  It was a terrific symposium attended by veterinarians and technicians dedicated to providing the best emergency care possible for our animal friends.  For the next two weeks, I will be blogging about things I learned at the conference.  I hope you will find the information useful.

The toxin in rattlesnake venom is made up of large molecular weight proteins.  Because of their size, the toxic molecules cannot cross directly into blood vessels.  Instead, the toxin is carried through the body in the lymphatic system.  What does this mean for you or you pet?  First, do not try to “suck out” the venom or make the patient bleed.  Instead, flush the wound with copious amounts of clean water.  Then place a snug bandage over the area of the bite wound.  Compression from the wrap decreases toxin spread by compressing the lymphatic channels.  There is no need to tourniquet the affected limb.  Second, get medical attention as soon as possible.  Early treatment is always the best.  

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.