Snakes are a part of life in Australia, and on the East Coast with the warmer weather in Spring there is an increased chance of an encounter with your pet. Unless threatened or surprised a snake will not attack, but unfortunately many cats and dogs don’t know this, and as a result a pet can be bitten by chasing or attacking one.
Tiger (mainly southern Australia) and Brown (all over Australia) snakes are responsible for most of the bites of our pets in Oz.
Snakes are usually found close to fresh water such as creeks or dams, and in the long grass or bush, or found in sheds, roofs and wood piles. We can use this knowledge to put measures in place to keep them apart, as that’s the best approach to protect your pet.
Tips to protect your pet
- Keep your pet close and on leash during walks
- Keep the grass short near the home
- Avoid walks in the long grass and bush, especially near waterways
- Don’t let your pet play with a dead snake – the venom in their fangs can still cause a fatality even after the snake itself is dead
- Secure the sleeping area so snakes can’t get in, and they cant escape
- Pet food attracts snakes – so keep this away from the sleeping area
- Know the symptoms you might see with a snake bite (below)
Symptoms of snake bite
These depend on the type of snake and how much venom was injected, and can occur anywhere from 1-24 hours post bite. The venom can stop the blood’s ability to clot leading to excessive bleeding, it can destroy body tissue, and has the potential to cause fatality within an hour. You may only notice one or a few of the following:
- Sudden collapse
- Dilated pupils
- Weakness progressing to paralysis, often starting in the back legs moving to all four
- Bleeding (urine, vomit)
See a snake?
Always stay clear of snakes and never attempt to catch one (nor kill- they are protected in Australia), if you see one around your house or work space keep calm and call a snake catcher (google is great to find a local one!). Whilst waiting for professional help please keep your pet safely away, and an eye on the snake from a far and safe distance to we know where it is when the handler arrives.
If you even suspect a snake has bitten your pet or they are showing any of the above symptoms you must seek Veterinary attention immediately, even if they have ‘seemingly’ recovered. Early intervention increases the chance of survival.
Stay calm, keep your pet as still as possible and head straight to your local Veterinarian, have someone call them advising that you’re on the way so they can be prepared to look after your pet from the moment you arrive.