Pets in peril: the relative susceptibility of cats and dogs to procoagulant snake venoms
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Snakebite is a common occurrence for pet cats and dogs worldwide and can be fatal. In Australia the eastern brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis) is responsible for an estimated 76% of reported snakebite cases to domestic pets nationally each year, with the primary pathology being venom-induced consumptive coagulopathy. While only 31% of dogs survive P. textilis bites without antivenom, cats are twice as likely to survive bites (66%). Even with antivenom treatment, cats have a significantly higher survival rate. The reason behind this disparity is unclear. Using a coagulation analyser (Stago STA R Max), we tested the relative procoagulant effects of P. textilis venom—as well as 10 additional procoagulant venoms found around the world—on cat and dog plasma in vitro, as well as on human plasma for comparison. All venoms acted faster upon dog plasma than cat or human, indicating that dogs would likely enter coagulopathic states sooner, and are thus more vulnerable to procoagulant snake venoms. The spontaneous clotting time (recalcified plasma with no venom added) was also substantially faster in dogs than in cats, suggesting that the naturally faster clotting blood of dogs predisposes them to being more vulnerable to procoagulant snake venoms. This is consistent with clinical records showing more rapid onset of symptoms and lethal effects in dogs than cats. Several behavioural differences between cats and dogs are also highly likely to disproportionately negatively affect prognosis in dogs. Thus, compared to cats, dogs require earlier snakebite first-aid and antivenom to prevent the onset of lethal venom effects.
Zdenek CN., Llinas J, Dobson J, Allen L, Dunstan N, Sousa LF, et al. Pets in peril: the relative susceptibility of cats and dogs to procoagulant snake venoms. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. C. Toxicol. Pharmacol.. 2020 Oct;236:108769. doi:10.1016/j.cbpc.2020.108769.
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