Vet saves dog bitten by coral snake

BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital encountered their first coral snake bite case and saved Elvis too

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Elvis still has plenty of No. 1 hits coming thanks to the veterinary team at BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

That’s because Elvis, a 7-year-old Cairn terrier, was bitten by a coral snake while playing outside. When Elvis came inside though, his owner, Steve Lara, noticed blood in his mouth but didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until around an hour later, after Elvis started vomiting and becoming lethargic, that his owners knew something was wrong. After finding the coral snake dead outside, they immediately rushed Elvis to BluePearl.

There, he was immediately rushed in for treatment and put on a mechanical ventilator. That was needed because the venom of the coral snake contains a neurotoxin that affects respiratory muscles, explained Tracy Gati, DVM, the senior emergency veterinarian who tended to Elvis.

“That’s what makes the snake so dangerous,” Dr. Gati said.

After 24 hours, Elvis started to show signs of improvement and was taken off the ventilator. When he started eating on his own and regained some movement in his limbs, the veterinary team started physical therapy. They did motion exercises with his limbs and used a sling to help him stand.

While Elvis will need additional treatment, Gati believes he’ll make a full recovery. “The biggest problem now is that he has some ulcers on his corneas because he wasn’t able to blink his eyes,” she said. “But we’re treating those with medication and they’re expected to heal.”

This was Gati’s first time treating a coral snake bite, as they are incredibly rare.

Elvis’s family was grateful for the work Gati and her team did to help save Elvis. “The team did a fantastic job of setting him up on the ventilator and then stayed right by his side,” Lara said. “It was pretty scary, but thankfully it all worked out.”

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