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January 2024

Snake Season and Pets: The Risks No One Is Talking About


Snake Bites On Pets In Australia

There are more than 6000 cases of snake bites on pets each year in Australia – and many of these cases involving venomous species like the king brown and tiger snakes. Cases are most common in spring and summer, so it’s crucial pet owners are aware of the risks, know how to best avoid an incident and know how to respond should an incident occur.

10 Tips To Protect Your Pet From Snakes

Here are some quick wins you can implement come snake season.

1. Keep Your Backyard Tidy

Snakes are naturally shy creatures that gravitate towards long grass and dense foliage. Keep the area around your house neat and tidy – mow your lawn regularly, eliminate dense weeded areas, keep paths clear of foliage, ensure they are no holes in the ground and remove toys, tools (or even backyard furniture) which could act as hiding places.

2. Ensure There is no Food Outside

Food attracts rodents and rodents attract…you guessed it, snakes. Avoid putting out bird seed in warmer months, clean up spilled food thoroughly after eating or entertaining outdoors and avoiding feeding your pets outside (particularly if your pet sometimes leaves some food behind). Even when your yard is clean and tidy, snakes are still able to enter so reducing attractions for them is vital.

3. Choose Walking Routes Carefully

This one is more for dog owners – but it’s crucial to be aware of what areas attract snakes and it’s best to avoid these walking trails in snake season. Snakes tend to be found in areas near fresh water – including creeks, rivers and dams. Also be mindful of snakes around long grass, particularly in dense wooded areas.

It’s a common misconception that snakes are only a risk on hot, sunny days (and they’ll be in plain sight basking in the sun). This isn’t the case! Snakes will often be out of sight, having sought shelter from harsh UV rays. Don’t assume that they’re not there just because you can’t see them.

4. Keep Your Dog on Lead

If you’re unsure of the area – adopt the mantra of ‘better safe than sorry’ and keep your dog on lead. This way you’re better able to monitor where they are and what they’re looking at, as curious dogs can get themselves into trouble.

5. Snakes are Sneaks…

Well, not really! But many snake species look alike – and it can be very difficult to identity the difference between species (and determine how dangerous they are) particularly if you see them from a distance and aren't an expert. If you come across a snake while walking your dog it's always best to play it safe, put your dog on lead and leave the area. It's the best way to keep you and your dog safe, while also avoiding the snake (who plays a vital role in our ecosystem).

6. Bring your Dog Inside to Sleep

In warmer months, your dog will be safer sleeping indoors. However, if you have an outdoor dog make sure their area outside is inaccessible to snakes. It’s also a good idea to contain their area so they can’t get out and investigate should a snake enter your property.

7. Keep your Cat Indoors in Snake Season

Like dogs, cats are naturally inquisitive, and their hunting instincts can put them in dangerous situations. By keeping your cat indoors, you can ensure their safety. This doesn’t mean you have to deprive your cat of the outdoors completely – a cat enclosure is an excellent solution to allow outdoor enrichment without compromising safety.

8. Know the Signs of a Bite

It’s important to be aware of what signs your pet with exhibit of a snake bite, so you can react quickly and save their life.

  • Sudden weakness and collapse (this may be followed by your pet getting up again and seeming normal)
  • Trembling, shaking or twitching
  • Unsteadiness, or weakness in the hind legs
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive salivation, drooling or frothing at the mouth
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blood in their urine
  • Dilated pupils
  • Paralysis
Hot Tip

Do not rely on being able to see a bite wound – as it’s often very small and difficult to locate.

9. Be Aware of Snake Bite First Aid

There are steps you can take prior to taking your dog to the vet to delay the spread of the venom – familiarise yourself with them should you need to use them. This is meant as extra steps to help your dog in addition to a vet visit, this is not an alternative to seeking medical treatment.

Venom is absorbed via the bloodstream – and movement speeds up this process. Minimise the spread by keeping your pet as still as possible.
Keep calm and quiet – as if you’re visibly stressed your pet’s stress levels will likely rise, allowing the venom to spread quicker.
Wrap your pet in a blanket for car ride, and carry them to the car (do not allow them to walk themselves).
Be aware of the process for pet CPR in case your pet stops breathing.

Do You Know How to Perform CPR...

...On your Pet? Find out how, and read other crucial first aid tips.

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10. If Your Pet is Bitten, Seek Immediate Attention

Your pet has the best chance of survival with quick intervention – if you suspect your dog has been bitten or they exhibit any of the symptoms listed above, seek immediate vet attention, and do not wait for it to get worse. Approximately 80% of pets will survive a snake bite if they’re treated quickly.

It’s also recommended to call your vet as soon as you realise and notify them that you are on your way. That way, the vet can prepare for your arrival so your pet can be treated without delay.

If you see the snake itself, do not try to collect it for purpose of identification. The vet will be able to run tests to determine what anti-venom they need and you will put yourself in danger by attempting to interact with the snake.

Do you know about Petstock Vet?

Speak to your local vet for more advice and information. Or you can visit one of our Petstock VET clinics in your local area.

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