Snake bites in pets surge in warmer weather

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snake bites in pets
The red-bellied black snake

Spring marks the beginning of a rise in snake bites in pets as the warmer weather and dryer conditions bring snakes out of their winter hibernation.

As the weather continues to warm up, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is encouraging animal owners to take precautions to help minimise the risk of snake bites in pets and seek immediate veterinary advice if they suspect their animal has been bitten.

AVA president, Dr Paula Parker, said that snakes tend to be their most active at the end of the day.

“Snake bites often occur in the late afternoon or early evening, however it’s important for people to be vigilant throughout the day,” she said.

Dr Parker explained that snakes found in backyards are usually looking for mice or rats to eat.

“Rats and mice can often be found in untidy sheds, or where’s there’s a good supply of wood piles and rubbish. So, it’s a good idea to maintain a tidy garden and shed, ensuring that wood piles are neatly stacked and discarding lawn clippings and mulch rather than keeping it in a pile.

“Outside, keep a close eye out for snakes in bushy areas or near water,” Dr Parker continued. “It’s best to try and keep horses, cattle and sheep away from bushy areas. Dog owners should try and avoid these areas when walking their pets at the end of the day and preferably keep them on the lead.”

The AVA said it’s important for animal owners to be aware of the signs of a snake bite as they may not actually see their animal being bitten. Signs of snake bite can vary depending on the snake and the location in Australia. Common signs of a snake bite include:

  • Sudden weakness followed by collapse
  • Unexplained bleeding or swelling
  • Reluctance or inability to walk
  • Breathing problems.

Bites from some snakes will cause an animal to collapse, and then seem to recover. This can give false confidence that the animal is okay, but what is really happening is the snake toxins are spreading through the system and wreaking havoc. Within a few hours, other signs start to develop.

“If you think your animal has been bitten, keep your pet calm and contact your vet immediately. The chances of recovery are much greater if treatment is delivered early,” Dr Parker said.

Based on a media release sourced from the AVA website.

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