In the warmer weather, it's more common to see snakes out and about, including in places such as your backyard. Snakes are beautiful native animals that are generally shy, but they can become aggressive in defence if they feel threatened by humans or animals.
So, it's important to be extra careful and do everything you can to keep snakes and companion animals safely apart.
Snakes are often attracted to potential food and water sources and safe, quiet places to hide.
To reduce the risk of snakes finding your property attractive, keep the grass low, clean up rubbish piles and clear away objects where snakes can hide (e.g. wood piles, under sheets of corrugated metal).
If snakes are a common threat in your area, you could consider building a snake-proof fence around all or part of your property.
If you are walking your dog close to bushland (especially near water during the summer months), keep your dog on a leash and avoid long grassy areas.
Keeping cats indoors with access to a snake-proof outdoor enclosure is the best way to prevent them from encountering snakes.
It's important to look out for warning signs that may indicate your animal has been bitten by a snake.
Whether your pet shows signs due to the venom injected by a snake bite is determined by numerous factors including the type of snake, the amount of venom injected and the site of the snake bite.
Tiger and brown snakes are responsible for most of the venomous snake bites in Australian cats and dogs, but other venomous snakes are also a serious risk including red-bellied black snakes, death adders and taipans.
A bite from any of these species can result in serious illness and can be life-threatening. It is helpful to be familiar with the types of venomous snakes usually found in and around your home location and other areas visited with your dog.
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Common signs associated with tiger and brown snake envenomation in companion animals include paralysis and/or muscle weakness, as well as excessive or prolonged bleeding (because the venom may affect blood clotting).
Other signs might include sudden weakness followed by collapse; this may be followed by apparent recovery, shaking or twitching of the muscles and reduced blinking of the eyes.
Watch out also for vomiting, loss of bladder and bowel control, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing and/or fast breathing, bleeding from the animal's nose, mouth and/or site of the snake bite, not eating (especially in cats) and dark-coloured urine (often bloody).
If you suspect your pet has been bitten, keep it calm and quiet and take them to your vet immediately. The chances of recovery are much greater if your pet is treated early.
Call ahead, so the vet can give you advice and prepare what they need for your pet's arrival and potential treatment.
If possible, apply a pressure bandage above, over and below the bite site, if you know where it is. If the bite site is on your animal's face or neck and they wear a collar, remove the collar to avoid problems if the area swells. Do NOT wash the wound or apply a tourniquet.
If you can identify the snake, tell your vet what type of snake it is - but don't try to catch or kill the snake.
Take a clear photo of the snake from a safe distance, but do not attempt to touch the snake (even if the snake appears to be dead) as this puts you at risk. Your vet can test to identify what type of antivenom should be administered.
Try to think about the snake's welfare, too. If the snake has been injured in an encounter with a dog or cat, please call your nearest wildlife rescue service or snake catcher.
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