Dion's Miraculous Recovery

Google Maps location for Winmalee Vet Hospital

Winmalee Vet Hospital
Winmalee Village Centre, 14 Whitecross Road
NSW 2777

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02 4754 4333

Faulconbridge Vet Hospital
453 Great Western Hwy, access via Coomassie Ave
NSW 2776

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02 4751 6388


Dion - Brought Back from the Dead


Dion is a typical Jack Russel Terrier - bright, intelligent, faithful, alert, very curious about his world and what inhabits it.

The Jack Russel Terrier is named after the Reverend John Russell, who developed the breed in England about 150 years ago. He developed the breed for hunting, especially foxes.   The hunting instinct is very strong in Jack Russell Terriers.

Dion was rushed to PetFriends Winmalee after collapsing suddenly, after an escapade in the bush. Normally Dion is not allowed in the bush without being on a lead, but on this day he escaped the family home, and had a romp in the bush.  When he came out of the bush, he vomited and then collapsed, and turned blue.

When he arrived, Dion had no heart beat, and was clinically dead.

Mel, a very experienced and capable vet nurse started cardiac compression, and Oxygen therapy via a mask. As it was after hours, Mel called Dr Chris Blair to come urgently. Dr Chris passed a tube into the lungs which was very difficult to do, but without vital oxygen Dion would have had no chance at a recovery. 

The diagnosis of snake bite was made, based on the history and clinical symptoms.  Usually symptoms of snake bite develop over a few hours, so laboratory tests can help confirm the diagnosis.

But there was no time to do lab tests - unless Dion received the correct treatment immediately, then Dion’s chances of survival were nil.

Fortunately, Dr Chris has been treating pets with snake bite for nearly 50 years, so did not hesitate to diagnose snake bite, and recommend immediate treatment. Dion’s owner agreed to treatment for snake bite, understanding that a lot of cost was involved, and that it was touch and go, and at best a 50:50 chance of survival.

As Dion was in severe shock, with his heart hardly beating at all, it was tricky to set up an intravenous line, but Dr Chris used a special 25 gauge butterfly needle to find a vein. Dr Chris quickly gave some injections to combat shock, and to help the heart.  Then snake anti venom was given. The response to the initial snake anti venom was significant, so after discussion with the owner, 2 more vials of snake anti venom were given.

All the time Dion’s owner Tania acted as the intensive care nurse, and operated the bag on the anaesthetic machine, which supplied oxygen direct to the lungs.

Amazingly, Dion’s heart started to work again, and within 15 minutes of starting treatment the heart returned to normal. Oxygen levels were monitored with a monitor clipped to the tongue, and Dion’s blood oxygen levels were maintained. Dion's tongue had been blue and his oxygen levels undetectable, but throughout the treatment his colour returned and his oxygen increased to a healthy 98.  As is often the case when a pet has had their brain deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period, Dion was unable to breathe by himself, and his owner had to squeeze the oxygen bag to send oxygen to his lungs.

Within a few hours, there was an unexpected miracle - Dion started breathing by himself. Dr Isabel Brazier took over from Dr Chris, and monitored his recovery. Dr Izzie checked Dion at 2 am, and he was almost back to normal, and was able to go for a walk on the lawn and pass urine.

The effects of the snake venom affect multiple body systems - the blood cells, muscles, and the nervous system are all affected. Dion was maintained on intravenous fluid to protect his kidneys from delayed damage. Dion went home a few days later, and continues to make an excellent recovery.

PetFriends has some excellent and comprehensive client notes on snakes - you are welcome to call in and get your own copy. There are helpful hints on how to prevent snake attacks on your pet.

Pet insurance will help pay for the enormous costs involved in the treatment of snake bite - there are lots of good products available.  One website to view is www.prosure.com.au.

If you suspect your pet might have been bitten by a snake, do not delay and seek veterinary advice urgently.

Your questions and comments are always welcome.


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