Puff adder poisoning

From Dog
Puff adder[1]

Snake-bite envenomation by the Puff adder (Bitis arietans; African puff adder) in relatively common across most of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

These snakes have the characteristic delta shaped head similar to the pit viper and are relatively slow moving.

Dog bites usually occur in autumn (March to May) in Africa[2] and affected dogs often present with dramatic local swelling in the region of the bite.

Puff adder envenomation is usually associated with high morbidity but low mortality[3], due primarily to bitistatin, a potent coagulant produced by the snake[4].

Blood tests usually reveal leukocytosis, neutrophilia and thrombocytopenia.

Diagnosis is usually based on historical evidence of snake bite together with presenting clinical symptoms.

Treatment usually requires intravenous fluid therapy and use of South African polyvalent antivenom[5].


  1. Watching the sun bake
  2. Lobetti RG & Joubert K (2004) Retrospective study of snake envenomation in 155 dogs from the Onderstepoort area of South Africa. J S Afr Vet Assoc 75(4):169-172
  3. Leisewitz AL et al (2004) The diagnosis and management of snakebite in dogs - a southern African perspective. J S Afr Vet Assoc 75(1):7-13
  4. Shebuski RJ et al (1989) Characterization and platelet inhibitory activity of bitistatin, a potent arginine-glycine-aspartic acid-containing peptide from the venom of the viper Bitis arietans. J Biol Chem 264(36):21550-21556
  5. De Cramer KG et al (2012) Morbidity and mortality following envenomation by the common night adder (Causus rhombeatus) in three dogs. J S Afr Vet Assoc 83(1):E1-E4