The temperatures are rising and the snakes are coming out of hibernation… over the past week alone, Canberra Veterinary Emergency Service has seen 9 patients after they were bitten by snakes…

The prognosis for recovery from snakebite can be good – statistics are 91% of cats who receive antivenom and 75% of dogs will survive but this depends on how much venom is injected and also how quickly treatment is received…

This photo is of beautiful Charlie who presented on Sunday after her owners saw her vomit and collapse in the backyard in the morning… but then start to walk and act like her normal self again? Her quick thinking owners knew that this meant that Charlie needed veterinary attention fast and they rushed her down to CVES. Laboratory tests showed markedly prolonged clotting times and Charlie promptly received her life-saving Snake Antivenom. Thanks to her quick thinking owners, Charlie made a fantastic recovery and was discharged home to her loving family the next day to continue her recovery.

Did you know that acute collapse and apparent recovery can mean that your pet has been bitten by a snake? The signs of snakebite vary with the species of snake (mostly Brown Snakes, Tiger Snakes and Red Bellied Black Snakes in Canberra) and can manifest anywhere from 1-24 hours after the bite actually happened. Effects of a snake bite can range from a coagulopathy (inability to clot the blood) to paralysis. Shortly after the animal is bitten, they will often vomit, become weak and collapse but then appear to recover? Rather than a mild envenomation, this actually means that the pet has received a multiple-lethal dose envenomation and needs urgent veterinary attention! Other early signs to be aware of include:
– Dilated pupils,
– Weakness or unsteadiness on their feet,
– Shaking,
– Hypersalivation or frothing at the mouth,
– Diarrhoea,
– Muscle tremors or seizures,
– Bloody urine or
– Difficulty breathing progressing to respiratory arrest.

Please share with your friends and family… when your pet has been bitten by a snake, do not waste time trying to apply tourniquets, cold packs or trying to remove venom from the wound, get your pet straight to the nearest vet as every minute counts!

Please also never try to catch the snake! This will only endanger your own life & delay your pet’s treatment. Laboratory tests can be used to diagnose and guide treatment… please seek professional help to remove a snake from your property!

If you are out enjoying this beautiful weather with your pets, please keep them on a lead and out of the long grass and away from rocks where snakes like to hide or sunbake. If you do see a snake, give it time to go away, most pets are bitten when they attack or harrass snakes.

Thank you to Charlie and her loving family for letting us share her story in the hope that this information can help others recognise the early signs of snake envenomation.

Canberra Veterinary Emergency Service, Compassionate and Experienced Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care when you need it the most.