Snake bites

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - NEWS - with Felix DeNa­tris BvSC VET­ERI­NAR­IAN

EV­ERY­ONE loves the warmth and lovely sun­shine of sum­mer, in­clud­ing our pets and snakes.

Ob­vi­ously, this is not a good com­bi­na­tion and each year, a lot of pets end up be­ing bit­ten by snakes.

Com­mon snakes we see in the North East are the brown, tiger, black and com­mon cop­per head.

The brown snake tends to be the more poi­sonous.

Snakes are of­ten very dif­fi­cult to dif­fer­en­ti­ate as each va­ri­ety can come in var­i­ous colours.

Luck­ily there is no need to catch the snake, al­though each snake has a unique venom, your vet will gen­er­ally stock a com­bi­na­tion anti-venom.

Signs that your pet has been bit­ten by a snake are vari­able.

Com­mon early signs in­clude vom­it­ing, in­creased sali­va­tion and col­lapse.

But there a num­ber of other clin­i­cal signs that can present such as trem­bling, di­ar­rhoea, in­creased breath­ing rate, paral­y­sis, and even­tu­ally death from paral­y­sis of the mus­cles re­spon­si­ble for breath­ing. Signs can be­gin as early as 20 min­utes after the bite but can be as late as 24 -48 hours, es­pe­cially in cats. If you think your an­i­mal has been bit­ten by a snake you need to con­tact your vet clinic and get them seen by your vet ASAP, as the venom can work very quickly and is of­ten fa­tal un­less treated ag­gres­sively.

Di­ag­no­sis at the clinic is made based on his­tory, clin­i­cal signs, and run­ning a blood clot­ting test.

Blood clot­ting tests are quick, rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive and help­ful to con­firm sus­pi­cion of snake bite.

The blood from an an­i­mal that has been bit­ten by a snake will clot slower than nor­mal or not at all.

If it has been over two hours, then run­ning a blood and urine test to check for mus­cle dam­age also helps con­firm a di­ag­no­sis.

Th­ese are most im­por­tant where we are not sure why your an­i­mal is sick.

Suc­cess­ful treat­ment re­quires hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion, in­tra­venous flu­ids, anti-venom in­tra­venously, and can vary from an overnight stay at the vet clinic to weeks, but gen­er­ally most an­i­mals will be in hos­pi­tal for 3-4 days.

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