Spring has sprung and as we enter the warmer months, our resident snakes will become more active. Kangaroo Island is home to two prominent species of snake, the Black Tiger snake (not always black) and the Pygmy Copperhead snake. Both species exhibit a significant amount of variation in their appearance, however in general terms the Pigmy Copperhead adult snakes do not grow to greater than 1 metre in length.
Pet owners need to be vigilant about identifying if their dog has been bitten and seeking medical advice. The chances of a successful outcome from treatment will be greatly increased by prompt diagnosis and treatment.
As you may not have seen your pet get bitten there are signs that are commonly seen post bite. These include:
Follow Dr Deb Lehmann’s unique footrot eradication program to finally remove footrot from your farm.
Footrot is a highly contagious bacterial infection by D nodosus causing acute lameness in sheep. "Climatic conditions on KI this spring are now ideal for footrot-associated lameness to show up and spread" says Deb. With warmth and moisture the footrot bacteria that carried through last summer hidden deep within an infected foot start to multiply. They can then leave the foot to move through moisture films on the pasture and infect the feet of other sheep. Lambs are particularly susceptible as they have thin skin and immature immune systems. Lame lambs at or after marking are often the first indication that footrot has somehow come onto a previously clean property. Footrot occurs worldwide and mainly affects sheep but can also be found in other cloven hooved animals such as goats, cattle and deer. This fact can make eradication difficult on some farms.
With Spring upon us, we’re fighting the snails off our veggie gardens. There are a number of slug and snail baits on the market, often in a pellet form made with ingredients that are attractive to dogs and every year we see very unwell dogs who have eaten the “pet safe” brands of bait.
The most dangerous ingredient in some of these baits is Metaldehyde. Many formulations of pellets, liquid, powder, granule and gel contain this toxin as it is very effective in killing snails and slugs. Unfortunately it can also kill dogs and cats. Metaldehyde effects multiple organ systems but most dramatically the central nervous system. It acts in the brain to reduce the concentrations of “GABA”, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, resulting in brain hyperactivity. The effects can occur within 30 minutes or up to 24 hours after ingestion. We typically see vomiting, hyper-salivation, anxiety, restlessness, rapid heart-rate and panting, hypersensitivity to sound and touch, and flickering eyes. Eventually it progresses to muscle rigidity, seizures, and comas. Pets can and do die from toxicity, often from respiratory failure, multi-organ failure, and blood clotting abnormalities. Animals who survive have become blind for up to 3 weeks.
Mack is a 2yo Kelpie who visited the clinic as he was unwell and not wanting to go to work, which was quite out of the ordinary for Mack. His owners noticed that he also had a sore and very swollen hind foot. After a thorough clinical exam and radiographs by our vet Dr. Liberty Hogg, Mack was diagnosed with a serious bacterial infection of the toe that had become established following a small puncture wound near the toenail.
Mack was hospitalised and started on intensive intravenous antibiotics and pain relief with round the clock care from the team aimed at making sure the infection did not creep further up his leg. Mack stayed in hospital for just over two weeks with frequent bandage changes and cleaning of his wound.
The treatment that was given stopped the spread of the infection and fortunately Mack only needed two of the three bones in one of his toes to be amputated. After the surgery Mack was allowed to return home on strict rest until his foot healed. In this circumstance there was nothing the owners could have done to prevent this from happening. Working dogs in particular are prone to serious infections from any wounds that occur in sheep and cattle yards so make sure that anything that can cause injury, particularly penetrations, like nails and bits of wire, are removed from these environments.
Whilst the team miss looking after Mack, we are glad that he is well on the road to recovery and itching to get back to work.