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Cats are less vulnerable to snake venom compared to dogs – Insurance for Pets


After a poisonous snake bite, cats are generally more likely to survive than dogs. However, this is a simple observation, without any scientific basis. A team of Australian researchers recently conducted studies to understand this phenomenon. The explanation is both physiological and behavioral.

The policyholderscat insurance may be pleased with the results of a recent study, which found that domestic cats are more resistant to snake venom than dogs. This work was published in the scientific journal Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology.

Based in the University of Queensland, Australia, the study found that cats’ chances of survival from being bitten by poisonous snakes are twice as high as that of dogs. According to scientists, this phenomenon is explained in particular by the large difference between the speed of blood coagulation of the two species.

Behaviors that accelerate the effects of venom

In addition to the physiological reactions caused by the venom, Australian scientists have noted aggravating factors in the behavior of pets. These habits tend to increase the fatality rate of snakebites for each species.

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In general, dogs use their snouts to discover their environment. This particularly vascularized area is therefore the first to be exposed to snakebites. As a result, the spread of venom in the bloodstream is faster in canines.

Cats, on the other hand, use their paws more for exploration. Logically, the risks of biting are lower. Indeed, it is easier to quickly remove a dough than a head in case of danger or suspicious movement. In addition, this entry point is relatively less dangerous for the blood system.

On the other hand, according to Dr. Brian Fry, co-author of the cited work:

Dogs are also generally more active than cats, which is far from being the most appropriate after a bite, the best practice being to remain as still as possible to slow the spread of the venom.

Through this study, Australian researchers aim to inform animal health professionals about the reaction time required in the event of a snake bite. Cats especially leave them a slight reprieve, unlike dogs. The effects of the venom are faster in the latter. They therefore risk dying very quickly without treatment.

A substance that affects coagulation

Every year, many cats and dogs around the world are bitten by snakes. These incidents can sometimes result in the death of these pets. As Dr. Brian Fry explains:

This is mainly due to a disease called venom-induced consumption coagulopathy, where an animal’s organism loses its ability to clot blood, resulting in fatal hemorrhage.

The brown snake alone is implicated in almost 76% of bite cases recorded annually in Australia, according to the researchers. The latter noted a 31% survival rate for dogs bitten by this species and not treated with antivenom.

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The percentage increases to 66% for cats, more than double the proportion observed in canines. The chances of survival are even greater in felines after administration of antivenom.

During their research, scientists compared the effects of the venom of a dozen snakes on the blood clotting mechanism of dogs and cats. This study focused in particular on the reactions to the toxic substance in the plasma of these animals.

According to laboratory experiments, snake venom generally worked faster on the plasma of dogs than on that of cats or even humans. Canids are therefore more vulnerable due to the sensitivity of their coagulation system.