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  • Galston Vet

Snake Bites & Your Pet

Updated: Feb 13, 2019

As snakes hibernate and are inactive during winter, snake bites usually occur in the warmer months of the year. September usually marks the emergence and first sighting of snakes for the season. Snakes just out of hibernation are often sluggish and more likely to encounter dogs and cats. During the heat of summer snakes become very active and hopefully avoid any dogs and cats. In this area the most common snake is the Black Snake followed by Brown Snakes. Snakes like the protection of long grass, rocks, logs and bushy areas. Keeping your pets away from these areas and clearing and maintaining their yard as much as possible will reduce the chances of a snake bite for your pets. First Aid for Snake Bites

If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake you should keep calm, immobilise your pet and keep them as quiet as possible. It is vital that you take them to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Early treatment is vital. Signs of snake envenomation can be seen within 1 hour or up to 24 hours later. Different venoms have a variety of effects ranging from nervous signs to bleeding. The amount of venom injected, the site bitten and the type of snake all affect what reaction is seen. Identification of the snake is helpful in the treatment but do not try to catch or kill the snake. A good description is sufficient. Owners often report that their dog collapsed shortly after the snake bite but then recover before symptoms develop over the next few hours. This often means a lethal dose of venom has been injected and requires urgent treatment. Clinical Signs Include: - Sudden weakness followed by collapse

- Shaking or twitching of muscles

- Vomiting and salivation

- Paralysis

- Blood in urine

- Bleeding from bite site

- Dilated pupils


Veterinary treatment varies with each case, how severe the symptoms are and how rapidly the symptoms progress. Treatment usually consists of intravenous fluids and the administration of antivenom to neutralise the snake’s venom. In some cases oxygen and ventilation will be required. With early treatment the outlook is good but is dependant on the severity of the symptoms.

This is Scoob who was bitten by a black snake on his chest. He was brought to the clinic immediately and made a full recovery!

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