Herp Bite Wounds

Bite wounds from other animals, especially cats, are VERY dangerous to herps, so if a herp is bitten by a mammal, it is imperative that you find a herp vet as soon as possible who can assist you. In addition to cleaning out the wounds with antiseptic soap or povidone iodine scrub as first aid measures, the next step should be to keep your pet herp warm and hydrated until you can seek veterinary care.

Your herp will most likely require antibiotic therapy, either given orally or by injection, to combat the bacteria that were injected into the wounds from teeth and claws. While a herp is on antibiotics, it should be kept at the high end of its temperature range, in order for the antibiotics to work the most effectively. Your vet will be able to help you by providing the information that you will need to know to properly care for your injured herp during this time.

Hopefully, you will already have established a relationship with a herp vet in your area, and that he or she has already examined and tested your pet before, but if that hasn't happened, you need to find a herp vet immediately. If you don't have one, call a few local pet retailers or herp breeders and ask who they use for a herp vet or you can call a few local vets who don't treat herps, and ask whom they would refer reptiles to.

My advice is that if you can't find a vet who is comfortable with herps (for example, if you live in a rural area), or if there is a new graduate in your area who is willing to see your pet, but is not familiar with herp medicine, be sure to remind them that most diagnostic labs offer a free consultation service with exotic veterinarians who can help them and advise them about the case. This can be invaluable for the vet just starting out with herps or for experienced herp vets just wanting a second opinion on a difficult case. The free consultation service offered by most of the large veterinary diagnostic labs provides vets with access to experienced herp vets who can help with diagnostics, provide information about the best locations to draw blood from the different species, and also provide information about testing and treatment. The consultants can also provide contact information with veterinary radiologists so that radiographs (x-rays) and ultrasound images can be evaluated with specialists familiar with many herp species. So, even a person with an unusual pet is never really alone out there when it comes to veterinary medicine, as help is just a phone call away! However, this service is for vet-to-vet only, not for pet owners to call in to speak with a veterinarian.

Many herps that have been attacked by another household pet will be suffering from some degree of shock and also may become hypothermic while out of its enclosure. A cat attack and the bites are both likely to cause behavioral and physical changes in a pet herp. For example, bearded dragons are likely to go into a torpor-like condition when there are any environmental changes.

I cannot stress enough how serious animal bites can be, so please find a qualified herp vet and get started on whatever treatment is necessary if you find yourself in a situation where a pet herp has been bitten. With appropriate care that is started within a reasonable period of time, you have a good chance that you can save your pet herp.

Copyright 2006 Margaret A. Wissman, D.V.M., D.A.B.V.P.
All Rights Reserved

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