As the weather warms up, so do reptiles. Snakes are now on the move and slithering into our backyards. In our area the most common snake seen is the red-bellied black snake. There are also smaller numbers of brown snakes and tiger snakes.
If your dog or cat does encounter a snake and are bitten it is very important to seek assistance straight away, even if your pet is not showing any signs of envenomation. If they have been bitten on a limb a compression bandage can be applied to reduce the absorption and circulation of the venom. Do not try and remove the venom or apply a tornique.
The signs of snake bite vary according to the type of snake and the amount of venom injected. Brown Snakes and Tiger Snakes have a very potent neurotoxin in their venom which causes a rapid paralysis which will quickly lead to paralysis or the respiratory muscles and death. It is really important to get immediate veterinary help.
Black snakes do not typically cause paralysis, although it does sometimes occur briefly. They do however have a toxin that causes the red blood cells and muscle to break down. The breakdown products are then filtered out by the kidneys and in the process the kidneys become damaged and acute kidney failure results. Many dogs do not show signs of being bitten until the kidney failure develops. Typical signs seen include:
- General lethargy
- excessive thirst
- dark or red urine
- swelling and pain at the site where the animal has been bitten.
At Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital we always have snake antivenom on hand in case your pet is bitten. We have already treated one dog successfully for a black snake bite this last month. Buster was weak in his hindlimbs and had killed a very large black snake three days before he became sick. He has now made a complete recovery after being treated with antivenom and being on a drip for a few days.
If you have a snake in your yard which needs relocating contact WIRES on 42 855 630. Do not tray and kill the snake as most envenomations occur in people when trying to kill a snake.