Warning after dog dies within hours of park encounter

A puppy has died after chasing something through the bush.

A woman in South East Queensland is warning other dog owners after her 16-month old puppy died while out on a walk.

Samantha Egan and her two cane corsos were heading up to a lookout in Peak Crossing, about 20 kilometres south of Ipswich, on February 19 when they ran into trouble.

“We were walking somewhere we hadn’t been to before and after 20 minutes Puppa ran into a bush and started chasing something,” Samantha told Yahoo News Australia.

By the time they headed back the dog was panting heavily and drooling with his tongue out of his mouth. “He couldn’t even make it all the way to the bottom, we had to carry him,” his owner explained.

Puppa as a young puppy (left) and a bigger Puppa sitting on an armchair with Samantha Egan.
Samantha said Puppa was very fit and athletic and just 16 months old when he was struck down while out for a walk in Peak Crossing. Source: Samantha Egan

Attempts to save puppy’s life

Although it was only a 28 to 30 degree day, and a short 40-minute walk shouldn’t have been an issue for the fit and young Puppa, at the time Samantha believed he was suffering from heat stroke.

Back at Flinders Plum picnic area, she poured water over him and tried to tip some into his mouth, too worried to put him into the hot car.

“With heat stroke, if you cool them down and they heat up again, that's when it becomes lethal,” she explained. “So we were trying to cool him down and not let him overheat again.”

“We stayed there as long as we could. Maybe two to three hours. We were willing to stay there all night just to get him good. But we were on the wrong track all together, and he was pretty much shutting down while we were waiting there.”

Fearing the worst, Samantha rushed Puppa to a 24-hour vet.

“He was already in a critical condition so there’s not much they really had time to do” she said. “Within three hours of him having symptoms he passed away. He was having a cardiac arrest so the vet euthanised him.”

A close up of Puppa's tongue showing the thin bite marks.
Samantha said she looked at Puppa's tongue and found a series of thin bite marks on the top of his tongue. Source: Samantha Egan

‘Huge purple bruising’ found on Puppa’s tongue

While the vet agreed that it was likely to have been heat stroke, Samanatha was on her way home when she wondered whether it could have been a snake that killed Puppa after spotting blood on his tongue after he’d chased something down the hill.

At home she examined the puppy’s body and discovered “huge purple bruising” on the underside of his tongue and “thin bite marks” on the top.

“We realised he hadn't died of heat stroke at all, it had been a snake bite,” she said. “We should have realised earlier. I guess you just don't want to think about it, but it does happen, it's a possibility, especially when there's a lot of brown snakes around in summer.”

“If we'd known that it was a snake bite, we would have rushed to the vet straightaway and he might have been saved.”

A brown snake curled up on grass.
Samantha believes it was a brown snake that bit Puppa. Source: Getty

Warning to dog owners

Samantha is now warning other dog owners to keep an eye out for the symptoms of a snakebite, which unfortunately can be very similar to the effects of heat stroke.

“Brown snakes have toxins in their venom that can lead to muscle breakdown, paralysis and abnormalities with a blood clotting,” Dr Louis Eramanis from the Small Animal Specialist Hospital told Yahoo News Australia.

“The annoying thing though, just after dogs have been bitten, they can collapse, vomit, have diarrhoea and then kind of make an apparent recovery and seem okay, and then start to decline after that. So snake bites can look like anything at the beginning.”

For dog owners who spot these symptoms in their pets, Dr Eramanis said they need to “get to a vet as quickly as possible”.

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