While summer heralds warmer weather and drier conditions, it also brings an increase in snake activity and that can be a concern for pet owners given Australia has some of the world’s most venomous snakes.
The good news is a few precautions, and acting fast if a snake bite does occur, can help save your pet’s life.
Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) president Dr Robert Johnson said snakes tend to be most active at the end of the day.
“Snake bites tend to occur in the late afternoon or early evening, however, when on the alert for snakes it’s important for people to remain vigilant throughout the day,” he said.
“Snakes in sheds are probably looking for mice or rats, so keeping your shed clean can help to avoid this problem.
“They tend to be attracted to areas where there’s a good supply of rats and mice, wood piles and piles of rubbish.
“Outside, keep a close eye for snakes in bushy areas or near water. It’s best to try to keep horses, cattle and sheep away from bushy areas if possible.
“Dog owners should avoid snake-prone areas, particularly if they are walking their dog at the end of the day.
“Snakes can also venture into backyards, and over the spring and summer months even city dogs and cats can be at risk.”
If you see a snake, trying to catch it is not a good idea.
Rather, focus on the emergency at hand and that is that it may have bitten your four-legged friend and time is of the essence.
Dr Johnson said it is important for animal owners to be aware of the signs of a snake bite as they may not actually see their animal being bitten, and the bite mark may not be immediately visible.
“The onset of signs in dogs is generally faster than it is for cats,” he said. Signs of a snake bite in cats and dogs include:
- Sudden weakness followed by collapse
- Bleeding puncture wound
- Swelling in the bitten area
- Pain and discomfort
- Neurological signs such as twitching, drooling and shaking
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Dilated pupils
Horses, sheep and cattle are also susceptible to snake venom. Signs include muscle tremor, laboured breathing, dilated pupils and paralysis.
“If you think your animal has been bitten contact your vet immediately, the chances of recovery are much greater if treatment is delivered early,” Dr Johnson said.
“If you can’t get veterinary attention immediately, applying a pressure bandage over and around the bite site can help slow the venom spreading to the heart, and try to keep your pet as calm as possible.”
This advertising feature has been supported by Wodonga’s River Country Animal Emergency Centre. Visit https://www.rivercountryaec.com.au/ for more info.