Animal Page

SNAKE BITES AND PETS

In the warmer summer months, snakes become much more active and pet owners need to be careful and safeguard their pets from snake bites, plus look out for the warning signs should an animal be bitten.

Dogs, being inquisitive creatures, usually try to chase or kill snakes resulting in snake bites usually to the dog's face and legs. Cats, being hunters and chasing anything that moves, also makes them quite susceptible to snake bites.

What do I do if I think my pet has been bitten by a snake?

If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake you should keep your pet calm and quiet and take it to a vet immediately. The chances of recovery are greater if your pet is treated early (80%) with some pets making a recovery within 48 hours. Pets left untreated have a much much lower survival rate and many die. If your vet is some distance, first aid you can apply, if practical, includes keeping your pet clam and quiet and applying a pressure bandage – a firm bandage over and around the bite site - to help slow the venom spreading to the heart. Do NOT wash the wound or apply a tourniquet.

If you can identify the snake tell your veterinarian - but don’t try to catch or kill the snake. If it is dead, bring the snake with you, otherwise there is a blood or urine test that can identify whether your animal has been bitten and the type of snake responsible. Once the snake has been identified your vet can administer antivenom. Please be warned that antivenom is quite expensive and can result in a hefty veterinary bill, so best to try and keep your pets as safe as possible. If you are walking your dog close to bushland - especially near water during the summer months - please keep your dog on a lead and avoid long grassy areas. Keep the grass low in your backyard/property, clean up any rubbish piles or clear away objects where snakes may be able to hide (wood piles, under sheets of corrugated metal etc.)

If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake, please call an RSPCA veterinary hospital or your local veterinarian.

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