How to keep your pets safe from snakes this summer
If your dog (or cat) has rounded up a snake, the quicker you act, the better the outcome is likely to be.
Here's your pocket guide to those critical first moments.
1. Is the snake still around?
If you can safely get to your dog or cat and remove it from the situation, do so, go Answers below.
If your pet is entangled with the snake or has the snake cornered where the snake can only escape past you, don't approach.
If your pet will respond to commands, call the dog off, then go Answers below,
If your pet won't respond to commands, but you have access to a hose and can spray the dog or cat from a distance, this can be enough to break the pet's concentration and let the snake get away, then go Answers below.
If that is not possible, call a snake catcher and keep an eye on the location of the snake, then you should go Answers below.
Even if the snake appears dead, don't pick it up. Snakes have been known to deliver a bite as their nerves are still quite active after death.
If you can take a photo of the snake to show the vet, this may be helpful.
2. Has your pet been bitten?
A. No. I know they haven't been bitten.
If you're absolutely positive your pet hasn't been bitten, and the snake has gone, then there's nothing else to do.
But if you have any doubt at all whether your pet has been bitten, you need to follow on.
B. Yes. I think they have been. (Or they might have been.)
Immediately get your pet into the car. Don't try to feed or give your pet water.
Trying to calm your pet is essentially futile, but putting them in the car can limit their movement and slow blood flow.
Get the animal to your nearest vet. Almost all vets will carry antivenom and snake bite detection kits.
Call the vet ahead of time to let them know the situation, if it is safe to do so. Get a passenger to call if you are driving.
If you believe the snake to still be around your house, call a snake catcher.
C. NOT SURE.
If you're not sure,
DON'T WAIT TO SEE IF YOUR PET SHOWS SIGNS OF ENVENOMATION.
By the time your pet starts showing symptoms, it can be too late.
Pets will sometimes appear fine after a snake bite, then go downhill rapidly.
Dogs may collapse then get up again and appear to be fine. That's what is referred to as pre-paralysis signs.
The longer you wait before getting your pet to the vet, the smaller its chance of survival, and the longer and more expensive its treatment is likely to be.
3. Is your pet is showing symptoms?
Maybe you didn't see your pet with a snake, or maybe it's starting to show symptoms on the way to the vet.
Many venomous snakes in Australia are neurotoxic, meaning the venom attacks the nervous system.
Symptoms may include but aren't limited to:
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Weakness, wobbly legs, inability to stand
- Collapse followed by brief recovery
- Dilated pupils
- Blood in urine/vomit
Your priority here still needs to be to get the animal to the vet as quickly as possible.
The neurotoxic venom shuts down the animal's ability to breathe.
If you have a second person with you while driving to the vet, there are basic CPR steps you can take to keep your pet breathing as long as possible.
- Chest compressions: You want to see the dog or cat's chest rise and fall.
- You can cover your pet's mouth and breath into its nose, if you're willing — be careful as the dog or cat may be agitated and try to bite.