Australia is inhabited by a variety of elapid species of snakes, including the most venomous snakes in the world. Almost 3000 humans are bitten by snakes each year and it is not uncommon for our four legged friends to cross paths with one of them. Snakes are particularly active during summer months. In our area, the most common cause of snake bite toxicity in dogs and cats is the Eastern Brown snake. Other cases seen at the clinic include: tiger snakes, rough scaled snakes, small eyed snakes and red belly black snakes.
What do I do if my dog has been bitten by a snake?
Stay calm and keep your dog nice and quiet. Seek veterinary attention immediately, do not wait for symptoms to appear. The sooner your pet is treated, the better the chance of survival. If practical, a pressure bandage can be applied on the limb.
If it is safe to do so, try to identify the snake in order to match the antivenom. Snakes are protected species and it is not recommended to kill them. It is not safe for you and you might loose precious time before your pet can be treated.
What are the signs of snake envenomation?
Disorientation, trembling, vomiting, salivation and frothing at the mouth, pale gums, transient collapse with apparent recovery, fast, laboured and shallow breathing, dilated pupils, hind limb weakness, progressive paralysis, brown/red urine, coma and death.
What is the treatment for snake bite?
Veterinary treatment for snake bite consists of the administration of antivenom as well as supportive critical care. Approximately 80% of pets survive snake bite if treated quickly. The survival rate is much lower however for pets that are left untreated and death often occurs.
Pets recovering from snake bite often need intensive and prolonged nursing care until they make a full recovery. Cost of treatment can reach thousands of dollars in no time. It is important to be ready to face that situation. Pet insurance is also a good idea as they can help cover the costs in case of an unexpected encounter.