Armed with curiosity and natural hunting instincts, it is not uncommon for our pets to cross paths with a snake. In the warmer months, snakes become much more active (not unlike many of us!). Because of this, we must be careful to protect our pets from snake bites and to be aware of the warning signs in case our pet is bitten.
If you do suspect a snake has bitten your pet, call us or one of the emergency hospitals ASAP.
How do I keep my pet safe from snakes?
Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to stop your pet from being bitten by a snake. However, by following a few rules, you can significantly reduce the risk of your pet coming in contact with a snake.
- Keep your pet on a leash when walking them through deep grass, the bush or along creeks.
- Remove rubble, building materials etc. from your backyard where snakes can hide.
- Invest in snake-proof fencing for your property.
- Remove food scraps from outside that may attract rats (and therefore snakes).
- Keep your grass short.
- If you suspect or know there is a snake, keep your pet away and get in touch with a snake catcher to have it removed. Do not try and move the snake yourself.
How do I know a snake has bitten my pet?
Signs of snake bites can vary depending on the species of snake, as well as the bite location.
Common signs can include;
- Vomiting and loss of bowel control.
- Dilated pupils not responsive to light.
- Weakness in hind legs (which often leads to paralysis).
- Rapid and shallow breathing.
- Shaking or twitching of the muscles.
- Red urine
Signs of snake bite usually appear anywhere from half an hour to 24 hours after an animal is bitten. Dogs typically show signs quicker than cats.
If your pet (particularly dog) has an episode of collapse +/- vomiting/diarrhoea and then apparent recovery, this can be a sign of a potentially lethal dose of venom. You need to get to the closest vet ASAP.
What do I do if a snake has bitten my pet?
If you suspect that your pet has been bitten, get them to us as soon as possible. The sooner they are treated, the better their chances of survival.
There are some important things you can do to help your pet while you are on the way to the vet:
- Keep your pet calm and cool.
- Keep your pet still. Carry your pet if they need to be moved (such as to the car).
- DO NOT Try to catch the snake or bring it in to us – we use an antivenom which covers all three of the most common snakes in Canberra. It is more important that you get your pet to us swiftly, than it is for us to identify the type of snake.
- DO NOT Bandage over the bite site – unless your pet is bleeding from a puncture (ie bite site), it is almost impossible to tell exactly where your pet was bitten. It does more harm to apply a bandage incorrectly or in the wrong location, and to delay in getting to the vet, than it does to go without a bandage.
Snake bites can be fatal and prevention is best. If you do have any questions about snakes or snake bites, book an appointment to talk to one of our team.