The weather is warming up which means that snakes are starting to come out.

Snakes would prefer to avoid any confrontation, but when a snake feels threatened they can inflict a lethal bite. A playful or inquisitive dog or cat can easily get a nasty bite. Dogs and cats are often bitten on on their head, neck, chest and upper limbs.

If your pet is bitten by a snake it’s important to act quickly. Approximately 80% of snake bite victims survive if they receive immediate medical attention.

Many factors, including the type of snake, how much venom was injected and where your pet was bitten, can affect the animal’s recovery.

If you see your pet with a snake or suspect your pet to be bitten, contact your vet or an emergency vet immediately for first aid. It is important to immobilise your pet and keep them calm. Do not hesitate in getting them to the vet. Don’t try to look for a bite. A snake bite can be very hard to locate on a cat or dog and you could be wasting valuable time.

Signs to look out for include;

  • Sudden weakness and collapse
  • Shaking or twitching of muscles
  • Unusual breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Dilated pupils not responsive to light
  • Blood in the urine
  • Paralysis

If you spot any of these symptoms contact your vet without delay. Remember that the sooner your pet is treated, the better their chance of survival.

Never attempt to kill or capture a live snake. Australian snakes are protected species and you may be putting yourself and others at risk by doing so.

Your vet can run tests, including a snake bite detection kit, to determine the best course of treatment. If the snake is dead, carefully pick up the snake with a shovel. A snake’s venom is still active even after death. Bring the dead snake with you to the vet if possible.

To prevent snake bites when walking your dog in bushlands or near lake and beach vegetation, keep your dog on a short leash. Keep your lawn cut short and keep your dog away from other areas, such as rubble, where snakes may hide. Keep your cat from wandering, particularly in the warmer months when snakes are most active.

If you have a snake on your property, keep your pets and family away and contact the Department of Parks and Wildlife Snake Removal Service via the Wildcare Helpline on 08 9474 9055.

This article was originally published on October 21, 2016