What should you do if your pet receives a snake bite?

The hot weather brings out much of Australia's unique wildlife, including its snakes. While humans know to be weary of the long grass, pets often show less restraint and, in some cases, will actively chase after a disturbed snake to play catch. This makes them particularly vulnerable to getting snake bites, and their smaller size means a bite that would not kill a human can still be fatal to a dog or cat.

Here is what to do if your pet does get a snake bite this summer. 

Identify and isolate the bite

The most common place for animals to get bitten is on the paws or lower limbs, so it's often possible to tightly tourniquet the pet at the wound site. Try and keep your pet as calm and immobile as possible, including tightly swaddling them. They may not enjoy the treatment, but it's extremely important to limit the flow of venom around the body while you are locating some emergency vet assistance.

Get them to a vet quickly

It's important to get the animal to a vet as soon as possible. Call the vet ahead and let them know it's an emergency. If you have information about the snake that bit your pet, including colours and markings, and any details about the bite, including the gap between the puncture marks, then share this information with the vet. This information can help the vet to locate an appropriate anti-venom to immediately treat your animal when they see you.

Keep your pet inside afterwards

After your pet has received the treatment and had a check over by the vet, they can easily start to feel much more perky and want to go running outside. You need to keep them inside and out of trouble, so move their feed and litter trays inside. If they won't use a litter tray, then make sure to supervise any toileting walks outside. Anti-venom is only a treatment and does not provide any long term protection from subsequent snake bites.

You can help to prevent further snake build-ups by removing excess building materials from your property such as sheets of corrugated iron and sheets of timber, as well as long grass. These are common areas for snakes to sleep during summer.

If your pet does get a snake bite this summer, as long as they get rapid treatment by a veterinarian, then there is a good chance they will make a full and rapid recovery.