HomeOutdoorsNewsDog Thought to Have Heat Exhaustion Dies Suddenly From Unseen Snake Bite

Dog Thought to Have Heat Exhaustion Dies Suddenly From Unseen Snake Bite

by Caitlin Berard
Eastern Brown Snake, Suspected Species Behind Dog Bite
(Photo by Ken Griffiths via Getty Images)

While spending a summer’s day at the park, Puppa the Italian mastiff suddenly appeared overheated. His owner assumed that after a little water and time in the shade, he would be fine. Little did she know, however, that her beloved dog had suffered a fatal snake bite.

As Puppa and his owner walked through the park, something caught the large dog’s eye, causing him to speed down a grassy slope nearby. His owner, Samantha Egan, watched him play without worry – that is until he came back panting.

It was late February, however, the dead of summer for Australians like Egan and Puppa. Egan’s first instinct was that he simply got too hot in the afternoon sun. Sadly, by the time they reached the park’s picnic area, it was clear he wasn’t suffering from heat exhaustion at all. Puppa collapsed, and his symptoms only worsened from there.

It soon became apparent that the dog had suffered a snake bite while running through the grass. As Egan began to put the pieces together, the horror set in. A mere 20 minutes after running down the hill, Puppa could no longer stand – and never would again.

Grieving Dog Owner Hopes to Spread Awareness in the Wake of Fatal Snake Bite

Following the unexpected and abrupt loss of her beloved dog, Samantha Egan hopes to spread awareness to save other pets from suffering the same fate. It can be difficult to spot the signs of a snake bite early enough to provide effective treatment, but doing so can save a dog’s life.

“He had chased something down a hill and 10 minutes after that he was very stressed, drooling from the mouth, and had some blood on his nose and tongue,” she told 9news. “My partner heard him scuffle with something but I didn’t.”

She explained that she thought he had heat stroke from his play, and gave him water in response. His condition, however, only worsened. “Once we got to the bottom of the lookout, he laid down, and didn’t get back up again.”

With Puppa’s life on the line, Egan rushed him to an emergency vet, who agreed with the heat stroke diagnosis. Unfortunately, they soon made the decision to euthanize the dog, as he was showing signs of an incoming heart attack. “It was going from 40 beats per minute to 70 beats per minute, similar to cardiac arrest,” Egan recalled.

Only after the 16-month-old dog was euthanized did they find the tiny snake bite under his tongue, the entire surface a disturbing shade of purple. Egan says she regrets not recognizing the effects of a snake bite sooner but admits they’re eerily similar to heat stroke.

Reptile expert Billy Collett, agreed that symptoms of a deadly snake bite can be misidentified as heat stroke in dogs. “It’s sort of like heat exhaustion,” he said. “That rapid panting, collapsing, losing consciousness. I’ve seen a few dogs that have been bitten by snakes and it’s pretty nasty. A lot die because owners just don’t realize they’ve been bitten.”