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.