Australia houses some of the most venomous snakes, some of which account for the majority of snake bites amongst our four legged companions. In the warmer months, snakes become much more active, and we as pet owners need to be cautious and safeguard our pets by remembering a few simple tips; avoid walking in long grassy areas and don’t allow your pets to explore holes or dig under rocks, and don’t allow your pet to approach a snake even it appears to be dead.
Our canine companions are inquisitive creatures and will often chase or attempt to kill snakes, while our feline friends possess that hunting and chasing instinct which exposes them to become susceptible to snake bites.
Envenomation from the toxins contained in snake venom is life-threatening and should always be treated as an emergency situation. If you do suspect that your pet has come into contact with a snake, it’s vital that you immediately seek veterinary attention.
Some of most common snakes that threaten the lives of our pets here in Australia include the Eastern Brown, Red-bellied Black, Taipan and the Tiger Snake. It’s important to note that snakes don’t intentionally seek out our pets but due the instinctive nature of them both, incidences do occur and the best thing that we can do is be prepared and don’t panic.
If you have sighted a snake in your yard, contact your local snake catcher. They will safely remove and relocate the snake into an environment that will avoid putting pet’s lives in danger.
Identifying a snake can be difficult so never assume it is non-venomous. By no means should you attempt to catch or approach the snake but if you can safely identify it by taking note of its colour and markings this will be help your veterinarian and also the snake catcher.
Remember, if you suspect that your pet has been in contact with any snake please contact your local vet immediately.
First Aid Tip for Snake Bites
This is an *Emergency* situation, transport your pet to a vet immediately
- Bites are usually inflicted on or around the head, neck and front legs
- Take not of the colour and patterns on the snake
- Do NOT attempt to catch the live snake
- Snakes are protected and killing them is illegal
Signs that your pet has been bitten by a snake:
- The area around the bite may swell rapidly
- Area around the bite may be very painful
- It may be hard to find the bite in some cases as there is no obvious swelling or or swelling may have caused the fang marks to disappear
- Difficulty in breathing due to narrowing or blockage of your pet's airway
The affected pet can react in different ways.
Symptoms can be:
- Dilated pupils
- Weakness in hind legs
- Pale gums
- Pace around anxiously
- Collapse straight after being bitten and then act normally for a period of time
- Become comatose
- Keep your pet calm and quiet
- Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage if possible
- Carry your pet to the car, do not allow your pet to walk if you can help it
- Transport your pet to a vet immediately
For more information on the prognosis and treatment of snake bites read this great information handout from the Animal Emergency Centre – Click here to view handout
A great reference for snake identification – www.whatsnakeisthat.com.au