With the weather warming up towards summer, snake season is also descending upon us. For those with inquisitive puppies or outdoor cats this can be an extra source of anxiety beyond just worrying about our own wellbeing – so do you know what to do if your pet is bitten by a snake?
First response and first aid for pet snakebites is quite similar to the process for humans, but it’s important to know the points of distinction. Here’s what you should do.
The first thing to do if you think your pet has been bitten by a snake is to try and keep them calm. Try and keep your pet as immobile and quiet as possible, and take them to the vet immediately (or start making plans to do so if you’re in a remote area). Your pet’s chance of making a quick recovery is up to 80 per cent if treated quickly.
Identify the snake by sight if you can, or collect it if it’s already dead, but don’t try to capture or kill the snake otherwise. There are tests that can be done to find the right antivenom for your pet if the snake isn’t physically identified.
How To Tell If Your Pet Was Bitten
You don’t always get to see the snake bite happen, so here’s how to tell if you’re not sure a snake bite is actually at fault.
Per Victoria’s Newtown Vet, a classic snake-bite situation is hearing a dog yelp while sniffing around underbrush or long grass, then presenting symptoms of vomiting or wobbly movement afterwards.
Sometimes it won’t be immediately obvious when a bite has occurred, like when pet-owners find their dog barking at a snake in the yard.
With cats it can be harder to tell, as they are more likely to roam independently, however the same symptoms of vomiting, weakness, lethargy and breathing problems will be presented.
If your pet is presenting any of these symptoms after being outside or on a walk during snake season, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and you should take them to the vet as soon as possible.
If the vet is a while away from you, you will have to administer first aid to help your pet’s chance of recovery. Apply pressure to the wound immediately and apply a pressure bandage as soon as possible to maintain continuous pressure.
Don’t wash the wound or apply a tourniquet, and especially don’t try to suck the venom out of the wound.
At The Vet
Vets will be able to administer anti-venom once the snake has been identified – but be aware, like a lot of veterinary procedures, anti-venom can be very expensive. A standard snake bite can result in a bill of up to $2000, while those requiring extra anti-venom or longer hospital stays can be even more.
If you’re worried or if you live in a high-risk area for snake bites, it might be worth investing in pet insurance.
Of course better than knowing how to treat a snake bite is making sure your pet doesn’t get bitten in the first place.
When walking your dogs in scrub or bushland in the summer, make sure to keep them on a short lead and don’t let them sniff around in long grass or around woodpiles. Snakes are also often found sunning themselves around the banks of rivers and lakes in summer.
If you have a dog or cat who lives in a yard, make sure you keep any grass trimmed low and reduce the number of hiding spots for snakes including wood piles or clusters of backyard rubbish.