Australia is home to a variety of snake species, some of which are highly poisonous. Studies estimate that over there are over 60,000 snake bite incidents involving dogs every year in Australia, which result in 15,000 dog deaths. However, by understanding the steps you should take if your dog is bitten by a snake, you can increase the chance that they will make a full recovery. Below is a guide to dealing with a snake bite situation which involves your dog.
Recognise the signs of a snakebite
It is important you recognise the signs that your dog has been bitten by a snake. The signs include:
- Muscle weakness: Your dog may appear to lose its strength, struggling to walk or stay on its feet.
- Dilated pupils: If the snake has released venom into your dog's bloodstream, it can cause the pupils to dilate.
- Vomiting: This is a reaction to snake venom entering your dog's body.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it is important that you take immediate action.
Calm your dog and call a vet
If you suspect a snake has bitten your dog, you should try to calm the dog immediately. Hold the dog gently so it cannot move and stroke its fur. Restricting your dog's movements and calming it down will help to reduce its heart rate. An elevated heart rate will pump any venom around the body at greater speed, increasing the risk of harm to your dog. Although dealing with a snakebite can be stressful and upsetting, you should try to remain calm yourself as making any loud noises or sudden movements could stress your dog. Once your dog is calm you should call a vet immediately so your dog can receive emergency treatment.
Don't try to capture or kill the snake
Some dog owners attempt to catch the snake which has bitten their dog. There are normally two motives for this action. Either the dog owner believes that having the snake will assist with the diagnosis and treatment of the bite or they wish to kill the snake in an act of revenge. Whatever the reasoning, trying to catch a venomous snake is never a wise idea. The vet will not require the body of the snake in order to treat your dog as they will be able to identify the type of venom using a blood sample. Trying to kill the snake could result in you being bitten which could have fatal consequences.
If you suspect your dog has suffered a snake bite, you should contact an emergency vet.