Local Leaders | Animal Health: Warm weather means snakes are awake

With the warmer weather, snakes are starting to come out of hibernation.

In this area, the main venomous snakes we see are eastern browns, tigers, copperheads, red belly blacks and black snakes. All of these are highly venomous.

Approximately 80 percent of pets will survive a snake bite if treated quickly. The survival rate is dependent on the type of snake, amount of venom injected and the time taken before treatment is instigated.

Snake venom contains a wide variety of toxins that vary from species to species. Generally you won't see your pet get bitten and 99 percent of the time we never find the bite site.

It's important to be aware of the following signs that could indicate a snake bite in dogs: trembling; vomiting; salivation, drooling, frothing; diarrhoea; weakness in the back legs or unsteadiness; dilated pupils; respiratory distress; bloody urine; continuous bleeding from the bite wound; progressing to a flaccid paralysis leading to coma or respiratory failure.

Cats on the other hand are usually found with weakness in all legs or a strange gait, dilated pupils, and they often become quite floppy.

Without treatment most dogs and cats will die.

In dogs, antivenom is extremely important in increasing the rate of survival. However, in cats we find that they are a little less susceptible to snake bite and in some cases appropriate supportive care, intravenous fluid therapy and temperature regulation is appropriate. Cats tend to have a higher rate of survival.

Following administration of the antivenin, intensive care with intravenous fluids, oxygen and constant monitoring for dehydration and temperature will assist in recovery. Unfortunately in some instances, the bite will still be fatal, regardless of treatment. Remember that the earlier treatment is instigated, the better the chance of recovery. If you suspect your pet has been bitten, call the vet immediately.

Jayde Costello

Jayde Costello

This story Watch out: there are snakes about first appeared on Braidwood Times.

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