Snake Bites and Your Pet
Snakes are more active in Spring and Summer and pose a risk to all dogs and cats. The two main snakes we see are Dugites (Brown) and Tiger snakes. Dugites are more common in bush areas and around the sand dune areas at the beach. Tiger snakes are more common in wet areas (e.g. lakes/swamp areas).
Snakes are not normally aggressive to people or animals except when approached, when they may bite to defend themselves. Although there is no way to completely prevent exposure to snakes, you can try to avoid contact between your pet and snakes. Dogs and cats are more prone to being bitten due to their inquisitive or hunting nature. Avoid contact between your dog and snakes by keeping it on a lead and with cats keeping them indoors helps reduce the risks especially in bush areas and around the lakes. If you are concerned that you may have snakes around your house you can make your yard less appealing to them by keeping any grass cut short, and avoid having piles of rubbish/wood that they may use as a hiding spot. Keeping your cat indoors helps reduce the risk of them being bitten.
For your pet, a snake bite can be incredibly serious, if not deadly. If your pet is ever bitten or thought to have been bitten by a snake it is a true emergency as they may require antivenom and intensive care. During business hours call us to tell us you are on your way and then come straight in. After hours call the Animal Emergency Care in Osborne Park on (08) 9204 0400.
Once at the vet we will examine your pet, and determine whether antivenom or other treatments are required. Several factors determine how a pet reacts to a snake bite – the type of snake, the time of year, whether the snake has recently bitten prey and even the location of the bite.
Do NOT try to collect the snake nor spend time trying to identify the snake – it delays treatment and puts you at risk of being bitten.
Signs that your pet may have been bitten vary and they may have some some or all of these signs:
- Sudden weakness followed by collapse
- Collapse then apparent recovery after being bitten – these are sometimes the patients who end up being most severely affected
- Shaking or twitching
- Dilated pupils – non light responsive
- Blood in the urine
- Difficulty breathing
Most pets survive a snake bite if treated promptly. The survival rate is affected by how much venom has been injected by the snake, the type of venom and how quickly treatment is undertaken. Even with rapid attention some pets do not survive if a large amount of venom has been injected.
Antivenom is expensive to make and has a short shelf life – this is reflected in the cost. Most only need one vial but occasionally more will be required. Animals needing antivenom will require fluids and other supportive care.
We have snake bite ID kits to help determine if your pet has been bitten and by a snake, and it also identifies the type of snake it was. Our antivenom covers both Tiger and Brown snakes so do not delay getting help.
Vitamin C does not treat snake bites, so please do not delay getting help!
Remember that antivenom is not a vaccine – it will not provide any protection for a future cat or dog snake bite.
What to do if you find a snake
Contact the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW) Snake Removal Service via the Wildcare Helpline on (08) 9474 9055. The Department will refer you to a volunteer reptile remover.
Remember… if your pet is bitten DO NOT try to catch or kill the snake, all Australian snakes are protected and you may expose yourself to unnecessary danger.
For more comprehensive information on snakes visit the Department of Parks and Wildlife website: http://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/…/living-w…/87-dealing-with-snakes