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Thromboelastographic evaluation of dogs bitten by rattlesnakes native to southern California

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  • 1 Department of Emergency and Critical Care, VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, 1900 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025.
  • | 2 VCA Clinical Studies, 1204 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064.
  • | 3 Department of Emergency and Critical Care, VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, 1900 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To validate that dogs become hypocoagulable following rattlesnake envenomation and to determine whether thromboelastographic abnormalities are correlated with envenomation severity for dogs bitten by rattlesnakes native to southern California.

ANIMALS 14 dogs with observed or suspected rattlesnake envenomation (envenomated dogs) and 10 healthy control dogs.

PROCEDURES For each dog, a citrate-anticoagulated blood sample underwent kaolin-activated thromboelastography. For each envenomated dog, a snakebite severity score was assigned on the basis of clinical findings, and prothrombin time, activated partial thromboplastin time, and platelet count were determined when the attending clinician deemed it necessary and owner finances allowed.

RESULTS For 12 of 14 envenomated dogs, the thromboelastographically determined clot strength was below the 25th percentile for the clot strength of control dogs, which was indicative of a hypocoagulable state. No envenomated dog had thromboelastographic results indicative of a hypercoagulable state. One envenomated dog had a prolonged prothrombin time, but the activated partial thromboplastin time and all thromboelastographic variables were within the respective reference ranges for that dog. Seven of 13 envenomated dogs were thrombocytopenic (platelet count, ≤ 170,000 platelets/μL). Snakebite severity score was negatively correlated with platelet count but was not correlated with any thromboelastographic variable.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that dogs generally become hypocoagulable following rattlesnake envenomation. Thromboelastography might provide an objective measure of the coagulation status of envenomated dogs and aid in the identification of dogs that are in a hypocoagulable state and in need of antivenin treatment prior to the onset of progressive clinical signs.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To validate that dogs become hypocoagulable following rattlesnake envenomation and to determine whether thromboelastographic abnormalities are correlated with envenomation severity for dogs bitten by rattlesnakes native to southern California.

ANIMALS 14 dogs with observed or suspected rattlesnake envenomation (envenomated dogs) and 10 healthy control dogs.

PROCEDURES For each dog, a citrate-anticoagulated blood sample underwent kaolin-activated thromboelastography. For each envenomated dog, a snakebite severity score was assigned on the basis of clinical findings, and prothrombin time, activated partial thromboplastin time, and platelet count were determined when the attending clinician deemed it necessary and owner finances allowed.

RESULTS For 12 of 14 envenomated dogs, the thromboelastographically determined clot strength was below the 25th percentile for the clot strength of control dogs, which was indicative of a hypocoagulable state. No envenomated dog had thromboelastographic results indicative of a hypercoagulable state. One envenomated dog had a prolonged prothrombin time, but the activated partial thromboplastin time and all thromboelastographic variables were within the respective reference ranges for that dog. Seven of 13 envenomated dogs were thrombocytopenic (platelet count, ≤ 170,000 platelets/μL). Snakebite severity score was negatively correlated with platelet count but was not correlated with any thromboelastographic variable.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that dogs generally become hypocoagulable following rattlesnake envenomation. Thromboelastography might provide an objective measure of the coagulation status of envenomated dogs and aid in the identification of dogs that are in a hypocoagulable state and in need of antivenin treatment prior to the onset of progressive clinical signs.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Lieblick's present address is MSPCA-Angell, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130.

Address correspondence to Dr. Lieblick (blieblick@mspca.org).