Scientists hoping to help save the lives of our furry friends have conducted a research study to find out why cats are twice as likely to survive a venomous snakebite than dogs. The results revealed the secret lies in the effects of snake venom on the blood clotting agents in dogs and cats and on the behavioral differences between cats and dogs…
Study method overview
Scientists used a coagulation analyser to test the effects of eastern brown snake venom and 10 additional venoms found around the world — on dog and cat plasma in the lab.
Study findings overview
Results revealed that all venoms acted faster on dog plasma than cat or human plasma. This indicates that dogs would likely enter a state where blood clotting fails sooner and are therefore more vulnerable to these snake venoms. In fact, the spontaneous clotting time of the blood — even without venom — was dramatically faster in dogs than in cats. The scientists concluded that the naturally faster clotting blood of dogs makes them more vulnerable to these types of snake venoms.
Additionally, there are behavioral differences between cats and dogs that are highly likely to increase the chances of dogs dying from venomous snake bite.
One such difference is that dogs typically investigate with their nose and mouth, which are highly vascularised areas, whereas cats often swat with their paws.
Also, dogs are usually more active than cats, which is dangerous after a bite has taken place because the best practice is to remain as still as possible to slow the spread of venom through the body.
Journal Reference: Christina N. Zdenek, Joshua Llinas, James Dobson, Luke Allen, Nathan Dunstan, Leijiane F. Sousa, Ana M. Moura da Silva, Bryan G. Fry. Pets in peril: The relative susceptibility of cats and dogs to procoagulant snake venoms. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology, 2020; 108769 DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpc.2020.108769