Pet owners warned of the danger of snakebites

December 2, 2011

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With the onset of summer, the Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital is warning pet owners to be on the look out for snakes and aware of the danger they impose to pets.

Veterinary Hospital Director, Dr Mark Lawrie, said there have already been 32 pets treated for snakebite at Murdoch during spring.

“Due to the quick response of the owners, we were able to administer anti-venom in time to save most of the animals,” Dr Lawrie said.

Pets are most in danger when they are near rivers, long grass and bushland, the usual areas inhabited by snakes.

Dr Lawrie says it’s important to recognise the symptoms of snakebite.

“Your pet might appear weak and groggy, vomit, have difficulty breathing, have blood in their faeces or urine, and could even collapse,” he said.

“You can’t always see the puncture marks that can be hidden by your pet’s fur, so if you suspect your pet has been bitten get them to a veterinary clinic for assessment as soon as you can.”

Some pets don’t exhibit any signs of having been bitten – so if you have seen them near a snake, the safest bet is to take them to the vet because left untreated they can die quickly and the complications and cost can greatly increase.

“If your pet stops breathing you should provide mouth-to-nose resuscitation by lying them on their side, closing their mouth and giving breaths through the nose,” Dr Lawrie said.

Pet owners can also help vets by trying to identify the type of snake that has bitten their pet. Brown snakes such as the dugite and western brown are the most common in Perth, followed by tiger snakes and very rarely death adders, which are mainly found in the hills region.

With the correct treatment around 90 per cent of pets survive snakebite. They are treated with anti-venom and if they have suffered paralysis they may need to be put on a ventilator and life support temporarily.

“Murdoch has a special ventilator machine in our Intensive Care Unit that maximises the chance of survival of seriously ill pets,” Dr Lawrie said.

“Interestingly, we have also just purchased a new ventilator for small mammals and reptiles, including snakes.”

Media contact: Hayley Mayne
Tel: (08) 9360 2491  |  Mobile: 0400 297 221  |  Email:
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