Pet Limb Fractures

Limb Fractures – Snake Bites Bandages and Splints
  • Sudden onset of acute lameness
  • Sudden (within 20 minutes) pain or swelling in a body part
  • Limb in abnormal position
  • Unwillingness to walk on an affected paw or leg
  • Swelling at site of injury
  • Excessive panting or salivation
  • Acute pain
  • Fang marks
  • Bleeding and or protruding bone fragments
  • Occasional breathing difficulties or total collapse

  • Restrain in a towel or blanket to keep warm

  • Do not cut over the bite marks as it increases the excitement of the pet and increases the toxicity of the venom.
  • Immobilize injured limb by splinting, if possible.
  • Do not apply a tourniquet to prevent the spread of venom; it does not spread through the blood. It binds to the tissues and spreads through the lymph. The only exception to this is with coral snake bites, in which case an arterial tourniquet is recommended.
  • Take to veterinarian
  • Do not heat or cool the area excessively. This has been shown to alter blood flow and increase the damage to the affected area.
  • Do not treat a pet for a snake bite which has not started to swell greatly within 20 minutes of the bite. 20% of snake bites are without envenomization.
  • Place tape “stirrups” directly on the fur extending the length of the leg and 8 inches beyond. These are then incorporated into the bandage as shown below.
  • If snake fang marks are on a leg, apply a splint and bandage to prevent lymph flow.
  • Bandage materials should be placed into the depressions of the leg and left off the protuberances in a manner as to turn the leg into a uniform cylinder.
  • Wrap the limb in an elastic bandage
  • Apply a splint to keep it in place
  • Bandage layers are secured with stretch gauze or cotton cloth and adhesive tape.
  • Re-wrap the entire limb and splint it to keep it immobilized.
  • After the leg is uniform in diameter, a splint is placed along the outside of the bandage. Use rolled newspaper, rolled magazines or thin wooden slats to immobilize the limb. Be sure splint is long enough for entire limb.
  • Take to veterinarian immediately for:
    • Administration of antivenom
    • Fluid therapy antihistamines and corticosteroids for shock
    • Antibiotics to prevent infection
  • Secure splint with tape, cloth bandage or other material
  • Splint limb in extension rather than flexion
  • Ancillary warm water soaks, whirlpool baths or hydrotherapy to manage tissue death following the incident.
  • Wrap in blanket
  • Application of DMSO to bite area may reduce swelling
  • Keep the patient calm
The nonvenomous Texas Longnose Snake has a single row of subcaudal scales and a divided anal plate.
The venomous Coral Snake has a double row of subcaudal scales and a single anal plate.