Dr. Melissa Meehan: Over 6000 pets are bitten by snakes in Australia each year. Like us it’s considered a life-threatening emergency. So, it’s really important to be able to recognise the signs of a bite and to know what to do if it happens.
We all know that snakes like the warmer weather and that they hang around dams and creeks where there is fresh water. Surprisingly though, 73% of snake bite attacks on dogs occur in the dogs very own backyard.
Snakes can be out at any time of day or night and can be found in all seasons. So, to reduce the risk of snakes gathering on your property keep your yard tidy by clearing undergrowth, filling holes in the ground, mowing the lawn and clearing away toys and tools. Which make great hiding places for snakes. Keep walkways clear of brush, flowers and shrubs, clean up any spilled food, fruit or bird seeds. If you attract rodents, you’ll attract snakes. Store firewood away from the house and always seek professional help in the removal of a snake from your property.
Remember most snakes don’t wish to interact with us or our pets, if you see a snake restrain your pet and simply give the snake time to move away, slowly walking back the way you came. To help avoid snakes whilst out walking with your dog in areas snakes might inhabit stay on open paths, keep your dog on a leash and away from high grass and rocks -where snakes like to rest. Don’t let your dog explore holes or dig under rocks or logs.
Signs of a snake bite occur 1 to 24 hours after the incident. Common initial signs include collapse and vomiting, followed by a deceptive improvement and then gradual worsening over the next 24 hours. A common early sign are dilated pupils as well as hind leg weakness. The hind leg weakness progresses to paralysis if left untreated and then even a coma and death. Other more subtle signs that you might see along the way include pale mucus membranes, trembling, depression and bleeding from wounds or blood in vomit and urine. Due to an inability to clot from the snake venom.
If you suspect that your dog has been bitten by a snake seek veterinary attention immediately and remember don’t panic, you need to stay calm, so you can keep your pet calm and keep them as still as possible to prevent venom spreading throughout their body. Whatever you do don’t waste time tourniquet the area or trying to catch the snake. It’s not going to help with treatment and you’re only putting yourself at risk.
Before you drive to the vets call ahead not all vets have anti-venom and it’s best that they know that you’re coming. The cost of treating a snake bite is expensive somewhere between 4 to 7 thousand dollars. So pet insurance can give you the peace of mind that your pet is covered in such an emergency.
If you would like to find out more about Hif’s pet insurance visit their website.