The first snake bite of the season has prompted a warning from vets at Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital about the deadly threat to dogs and cats.
Murdoch Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Katrin Swindells said Rocco, a Burmese cat, had been bitten in recent days in Perth and she expected more pet victims in the next few weeks as the weather warmed.
Snake bites are more common in Perth than other capitals because of large areas of natural reserves around the city. Up to 50 pets are treated each year for snake bites at Murdoch University.
"Snake venom causes paralysis, bleeding disorders and muscle damage which, if not treated quickly by a vet, will lead to death," Dr Swindells said.
"Dogs and cats are inquisitive and will often chase snakes or attempt to kill them. As a result, they may be bitten several times, particularly if the snake is fighting for its life."
In the most severe cases, she said, the pet may need to be put on a ventilator – to be kept alive until the paralysis is reversed with anti-venom.
Dr Swindells said that if a pet stopped breathing on the way to a vet clinic it should receive mouth-to-nose resuscitation while lying on its side.
Applying a compressive bandage along the whole limb was a proven first aid in humans but with most bites in animals occurring around the head and neck, pressure bandages could not be applied as they would interfere with the animal’s ability to breathe.