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Snake Bites and Pets

  • by Bec
  • 3 min read

I saw a snake the other day near our garage. After the initial jumping, squealing and running away, I calmed down enough to realise it was only a green tree snake and I just left it alone and it went on its merry way.

Living on acreage in South East Queensland means we do occasionally see snakes, so it wasn’t the first time and certainly won’t be the last time that I will have a snake encounter. But it got me to thinking about first aid for snake bites and what I would do if someone or one of the animals were bitten.

A lot of us know the first aid steps to take if a person is bitten by a snake, but do you know what to do if an animal is bitten by a snake? Do you know what signs to look out for to know if your animal has been bitten?

It can be hard to know why an animal is acting sick, unwell or lethargic because unfortunately they can’t tell us what is going on. This is when we need to watch them and look for the vital clues and signs of injury, trauma or disease. Snake bites can be fatal so it is important to be aware of the symptoms of a snake bite. These symptoms can be seen soon after a snake bite or develop up to 24 hours after it has occurred.
* Swelling, irritation or bleeding at the bite site
* Vomiting
* Shaking, trembling or muscle twitches
* Dilated pupils
* Weakness and/or collapse
* Drooling
* Pale gums
* Blood in the urine
* Panting or rapid breathing
* Paralysis

The severity or presence of certain symptoms will vary depending on the type of snake that has bitten the animal and the amount of venom that has been injected.

If your pet is bitten by a snake follow the following steps;
* Stay calm
* Do not try to find, catch or kill the snake; this could lead to you getting bitten
* Keep them as still as possible and carry them to the car
* If they have been bitten on a limb apply a pressure bandage to the limb (not too tight that you cut off circulation)
* Get them to your closest vet clinic for assessment

If your pet has been bitten by a snake or even if you suspect that it is a possibility please get them to a veterinarian immediately for examination. Even if there are no symptoms presenting consult your vet for advice as symptoms can develop very quickly and death can occur. The quicker an animal is treated by a vet after a snake bite the better the prognosis.

Once the animal reaches the vet clinic or animal hospital they will be quickly assessed and examined. Initial treatment may include a snake bite identification kit, blood tests, urine tests, oxygen therapy, intravenous fluids and administration of medication. Treatment and recovery from a snakebite can take one day or up to a week in a veterinary clinic, followed by a few weeks of being kept calm with reduced activity. Treatment with anti-venom and supportive therapies is generally very successful in saving a pets life with most pets making a full recovery.

So now you know what signs to look for and what to do if your pet is bitten by a snake but I hope that you never have to put the information to use.

Until next time,


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