Seasonal News

Slippery Business

It’s that time of year again when the heat comes and the family moves from indoors to making the most of outdoors.  For most Australians, snakes are a part of our environment and we expect to see them out and about this time of year.  Our pets however, see snakes as a danger to their family or as a great chasy toy to play with. 

Try as we might, we can never truly “snake proof” our properties.  Snake deterrents’ effectiveness is debateable and even when clearing our yard of debris and things that attract the snake’s prey (e.g. mice and rats), snakes will still surprise us and turn up sunbaking on our freshly cut lawn.

With this in mind, it’s always good to know what signs to look for should you witness your dog being bitten or your dog falls ill over these summer months.

Firstly, if you see your pet playing with/killing a snake, puncture wounds are not always visible and usually only found in about 30% of cases.  Our number one piece of advice is bring the pet into the clinic ASAP.  The experienced veterinarians can run specific tests to help determine envenomation and also to determine the identification of the type of snake.

As symptoms can vary depending on the snake and the animal’s sensitivity to the venom, below are the key symptoms in cats and dogs that you need to be aware of:

  • Diluted pupils
  • Absent or sluggish pupil reactions to light
  • Hind leg paralysis
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Rapid breathing
  • Salivation (only in dogs).

The Australian Venom Research Institute studies have shown that dogs will show symptoms within the first 1-6 hours of being bitten, while cats can be 15 -22 hours post bite.  The institute also advises that your pet can often be bitten and have immediate collapse, then appear to completely recover, only to deteriorate over coming hours.  Don’t be disillusioned that your pet has recovered.  Pets that collapse immediately, then recover have shown to be associated with severe envenomation from the Eastern Brown (including King Brown), Tiger snakes and the Coastal Taipan.  All of which live amongst us in the Jimboomba and Beaudesert region. 

Snake venom works in different ways depending on the snake, but muscle damage and paralysis are big components of most snake bites.  Internal bleeding occurs rapidly as muscle is broken down and paralysis gradually occurs and causes respiratory distress, and eventually death.

The good thing to know is overall 91% of dogs and 75% of cats treated with the correct anti-venom survive snake bites.  Getting to your vet is imperative.  Identification of the snake helps also, but don’t put yourself or your family in danger trying to retrieve it.  Research your snake types prior (in the hope you will never need the information), however you will be armed with info should the time occur.

We have had some initially very sick snake bite pets, happily run out of the clinic with their owners after our experienced team have worked and nursed tirelessly to keep them alive.