Ticks, snake bites, bloat and toad poisoning. – A night with Dr Ray Baxter

Dr Ray Baxter Emergency Vet Talking
Dr Ray Baxter Emergency Vet Talking to Redlands Dog Obedience Club Members

Pet First Aid Info Night -Wednesday 30th May 2018

Dr Ray Baxter, an Emergency Vet from SuperVets, Manly West, delivered a very educational and entertaining evening on Pet First Aid. It was a cold night but our members huddled together, some with their dogs on their laps to keep them warm, to listen and ask lots of questions.

He started with a sad story of a dog fight, a small ball of fluff versus the strong jaws of a bigger dog. He went through the DRABC procedure which is similar to what we do in human first aid. We do the same breath to compression ratio (2:30) as for humans, except the dog is usually on its side, not on its back, and we hold their mouth shut and blow into their nose. To feel for the femoral pulse on a dog place your fingers near the top and inside of its thigh. It’s a good idea to practice feeling for a pulse on your healthy dog to know where to find it.

Dr Ray advised us of the things we all should do and not do if we are ever faced with a situation such as the dog attack. Unfortunately, sometimes human nature steers us to not want to be involved, which is what happened when the small ball of fluff was attacked – no one came to help. Dr Ray said, even if we physically can’t help, we can still do something, even if it’s going to find someone else to help, or direct traffic, or direct other people to do things. The first part of the DRABC procedure is ‘Danger’, and no one should put their hands near a dog fight, so he suggested things like throwing water on the dogs, or throwing your drink bottle or coffee, or anything. Don’t kick or scream as this excites the biting dog even more. If you feel able to get more involved, he suggested grabbing the tail of the dog that has latched on and yes, putting a finger up there! The dog should release his jaws, it’s a distraction technique.

Ticks, snake bites, bloat and toad poisoning.

He said Nexgard and Nexgard Spectra were good for preventing ticks, but you must be vigilant with the timing of dosing. Your dog will not be protected if you are a few days late. He has seen ticks on dogs when they were just a couple of days overdue for their monthly Nexgard, and he lost faith in tick collars after finding a tick actually underneath a tick collar. He liked Bravecto as it gives 3 months flea protection but 4 months tick protection so if you dose every 3 months, your dog is still protected against ticks if you are a few days late. Nexgard Spectra does not treat for tapeworm, which is commonly carried in geckos and by fleas, so you will have to use a separate product as well to dose for tapeworm.  He said if you see a tick, remove it as soon as possible. Just pull it out. An interesting fact about removing ticks was that if you happen to break the head off the tick while trying to remove it, the old wives tale was that the tick would still pump toxins, which is not true. The tick will be dead, so no more toxin will be released.

If you think your dog has been bitten by a snake, try to keep the dog calm and get it to the Vet ASAP. If the dog has killed the snake, collect the dead snake and take it to the Vet also so it can be identified to give your dog the correct anti-venom. Be careful handling a dead snake, it still has venom. If the snake is still alive, don’t try to chase or kill it. Snakes are a protected species and you might end up being bitten yourself. Snake bite symptoms can be misleading as the dog may show symptoms initially (weakness, collapse, vomiting, salivation) but then may go through what looks like a recovery period. This is not a good prognosis. This period is followed (around 6 hours later) by more severe and often fatal symptoms. Therefore it is imperative that you take your dog to the Vet immediately if you suspect a snake bite. Dr Ray advised asking for 2 vials of anti-venom if you can afford it, as if one is not enough, the procedure is to wait and see which might be too late by then. Also, do not allow your dog to urinate, if it does, then try to collect this urine, as the Vet will require the first urine sample after the bite to test for the snake species.

Any large dogs with deep chests (e.g. Great Dane, GSD, Weimaraner) are susceptible to Bloat and there is a proven genetic link as well so if you know that a relative of your dog has had bloat you need to be doubly careful. Bloat can be prevented by feeding meals in smaller quantities throughout the day and adding something wet to the dry food, rather than one big meal of dry food per day. You should also take steps to prevent them from exercising after their meal. A slow feeder bowl can help to prevent your dog from eating too fast and gulping air. It had also been found that the practice of elevating the food bowl for large dogs actually makes the risk of bloat worse. Dogs are designed to eat from the ground. The symptoms to watch out for are an enlarged abdomen which has a distinctive ‘ping’ sound when struck , excessive drooling, vomiting and laboured breathing.

Dr Ray went on to say that dogs do vomit after eating grass, but they don’t eat grass to make themselves vomit. Some dogs like eating grass, but we shouldn’t allow them to do it as grass can cause micro tears in the intestine and it is not digestible so can build up and possibly cause obstructions. The clear, yellow bile type of vomit is usually when the dog has gone for a long period without food. The main concern is when your dog has numerous vomits over a short period of time.

Biting toads was also discussed. Dr Ray recommended using positive reinforcement techniques to train your dog to respond to the “leave it” command so that they leave toads alone. If your dog has bitten or licked a toad, then keep wiping the entire inside of the dog’s mouth with a clean wet cloth while someone else drives you to the nearest vet surgery. Include under the tongue, inside the cheeks and go back as far down the throat as possible. Don’t use the hose as advised in the past as this does not remove the white sticky goo poison and can cause water to go into your dog’s lungs and drown him. Symptoms of toad poisoning are very red slimy gums, pawing at their mouth, dilated pupils, excessive drooling/frothing at the mouth, vomiting and convulsions.

Other obstructions can be caused by bones. Therefore he advised not to give your dog bones that have sharp edges or that have been cut. It is best to supervise your dog when eating a bone and to ensure the bone is suitable for the size of the dog. Kangaroo rib bones were not recommended as these are sharp and can pierce the intestine. The bone should be taken from your dog if he starts to crack it open. The old advice that bone marrow was “good for dogs” is not recommended these days. The marrow is high in fat which can cause problems such as pancreatitis, especially if you give a big bone to a small dog. If a bone does become lodged in your dog’s teeth, roof of his mouth or throat, it is advised to reach in and flick it backwards to try to remove it as soon as possible. Dr Ray said this is usually easily done and can be done at home.

He suggested that dogs can still have good dental health with dry dog food designed for dental care and that all of his clients that brush their dog’s teeth have shown that brushing works. He advised not to use human toothpaste as the fluoride is not suitable for dogs. Therefore toothpaste designed for babies can be used as a less expensive alternative, just check it does not contain fluoride or is grape flavoured. The same applies for using sunscreen on dogs. Dogs, especially white dogs, are prone to sun damage which can result in skin cancer. However, Dr Ray stressed not to use sunscreen containing zinc. Sunscreen designed for babies is a safer option, or sunscreen designed specifically for dogs.

On the night we raised $225 and our club also contributed the same amount – so a total of $450 has been donated to Animal Rescue Qld, which is a no kill rescue charity dedicated to giving homeless dogs and cats in SE Qld a second chance and a forever home. Every dollar donated directly supports ARQ’s services that continue to help hundreds of stray and abused animals each year.