Snake bites

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Echuca Veterinary Clinic
332 High Street
Victoria 3564

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03 5482 3202

Deniliquin Veterinary Clinic
389 Poictiers Street
NSW 2710

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03 5881 5488

Moama Veterinary Clinic
61 Meninya Street
Vic 2731

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03 5480 6071

Finley Veterinary Clinic
57 Warmatta St
NSW 2713

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03 5883 3833

Now that the summer months are fast approaching, snakes are coming out of hibernation and actively seeking out food sources. The most common snake species seen around our area are brown and tiger snakes. Although snakes preferentially avoid our pets, with movement of people further and further into the country, the habitats of snakes and our pets sometimes co-exist. Additionally, with dogs and cats being natural predator species, they are more likely to hunt down “intruders”, and are thus likely to be bitten as snakes will bite when they feel threatened.

When first bitten, pets may show signs such as collapse, vomiting, excessive salivation, trembling and panting. These signs are referred to as “pre-paralytic signs” and indicate that the animal has received a lethal dose of venom and therefore requires anti-venom as soon as possible.

As the time between envenomation and presentation to the vet clinic increases, signs that may also be seen include dilated pupils that are non-responsive to light, shallow breathing, weakness in the back legs and red urine. Cats may just become very quiet and listless.

The most important thing you can do for your pet if you are suspicious of a snake bite is to keep calm and bring him/her straight to the vet clinic. The quicker we administer anti-venom, the higher your pet’s chance of survival. This is more important for our canine companions, as cats tend to be a little more resistant to the effects of snake venom. It is likely that your pet will need to be hospitalized on IV fluids for a minimum of 48 hours to flush out the toxins that are present in their bloodstream.

We stock anti-venom that treats all species of venomous snakes in our area, so please DO NOT attempt to catch and kill the snake. We do not necessarily need identification of the snake species to treat your pet effectively.

The most important aspects to preventing snake bites in these warmer months are to keep your lawns well-mown, and reduce any areas where snakes may hide out (tyre piles, tin sheds, etc). It is also important that you keep your pet on a lead when walking in grassy areas, particularly along the river. This is a very high risk area, especially for tiger snakes which are very aggressive when threatened.