Australia is home to many venomous snakes, and with the weather warming up these cold-blooded reptiles are now becoming more active and a lot more visible as they start to emerge from their winter hibernation to bask in the sun and to search for food and a mate. To discourage snakes from hanging out in your backyard, keep the grass low and clear away rubbish and other places like wood piles where snakes could find a hiding spot; a favourite is shoes left on the doorstep, the letterbox and under the wheelie bins. Avoid attracting snakes by keeping your pet’s food and water bowls inside. Be especially wary when walking your dog in bushland or near water during the warmer summer months; try to keep your pet on a lead. If you do find a snake in your backyard, stay away from it and don’t attempt to kill it, as this is how most people end up getting bitten. Ensure your pets are kept well away from the snake, as both cats and dogs tend to want to chase and attack them, resulting in bites. The tiger and brown snake are responsible for most of the snake bites seen in our clinics. Snake bites can be fatal to pets and knowing if your beloved companion has been bitten is crucial to getting the help they need as soon as possible. Look out for sudden weakness followed by collapse, shaking and muscle twitching, vomiting, loss of bladder or bowel control, dilated pupils, paralysis and bloody urine. If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake, keep them calm, quiet and still! Rush them to the vet immediately. The chances of recovery are much greater if your pet is treated early; pets left untreated for a longer time have a much lower survival rate. If your far away and can’t reach a VetLove clinic, you can apply a pressure bandage over and around the bite site to help slow the venom spreading to the heart, but don’t wash the wound. If you can identify the snake, tell your vet what type of snake it is – but DON’T try to catch or kill it. If it is dead, take a photo or bring the snake with you. Hopefully you and your pet will never have to encounter this situation, but living in the areas we do and treating the few patients that come to our clinics, is always a reminder that we share this wonderful country with snakes. Stay safe!
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