How to tell if your dog has been bitten by a red-bellied black snake | Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital
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How to tell if your dog has been bitten by a red-bellied black snake

Matt Young's picture
A red belly black snake in green grass with the caption: How to tell if your dog's been bitten

The most common type of snake found in our area is the red-bellied black snake. They are not a particularly aggressive snake but we do see alot of bites in dogs as the dogs will corner the snake and bite them (so of course the snake bites back in defense). If you've found a red-bellied black snake and aren't sure if your dog was bitten here are some ways to tell:

1. Look for a bite

The fangs of the snake cause a puncture wound and the venom then causes the muscles around the wound to break down. The area becomes very inflamed. The bite wounds are usually:

  • red
  • swollen
  • painful
  • leak serum

The most common sites to be bitten are on the face (don't forget to check inside their mouth) and on the legs.

2. Monitor their urine

The venom causes red cells and muscle to break down and the haemoglobin and myoglobin are filtered out by the kidneys (damaging their kidneys on the way through, this is what makes them so sick!) and then is passed in the urine. The urine is discoloured a red or brown colour.

3. Look for clinical signs

signs can vary depending on the individual snake. Occasionally the snake has a potent neurotoxin and will develop:

  • weakness
  • drooling
  • wobbly legs
  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • difficulty breathing

nb. this is uncommon but very serious. If your dog shows any of the above signs seek immediate veterinary treatment.  Jump in the car and head in. Call us to let us know you're on the way on 42 619 838

More commonly we see dogs that are affected due to the damage caused by the myotoxin. The muscle is broken down and myoglobin is filtered by the kidneys causing acute kidney failure. Look out for:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • weakness
  • lethargy
  • increased thirst

If you have a strong suspicion that your dog was bitten it is better to seek treatment as early as possible. They will need treatment with fluids to maintain hydration and circulation through the kidneys and snake antivenom. At Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital we always have antivenom on hand for the emergency treatment of your pet. If you suspect your dog has been bitten by a red-bellied black snake call us on 42 619 838

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