Snake bite numbers on rise across southern Queensland
ONCE the weather warms up, one downside to the summer months is the prevalence of snakes, with many pets and livestock falling victim to the deadly reptile each year.
So far this season, there has been a higher than normal incidence of snake bites in predominantly dogs and cats, presenting to local vets.
Snakes have become very active on the Southern Downs, and since September, the Warwick and Allora Veterinary Clinics have treated more than 30 patients for snake bites.
Allora Veterinary Clinic veterinarian, Dr Jane Gilmore, said snake bite cases had begun earlier than normal this year, with higher numbers of patients being treated to date this spring/summer.
"This season has been worse than others, and just seems to have started earlier," Dr Gilmore said.
"Brown snakes (Pseudonaja textilis) are the most common cause of snake bites we see but we also have treated dogs and cats bitten by Red Bellied Black (Pseudechis porphyriacus) and Tiger (Notechis scutatus) snakes," she said.
"A brown snake will usually kill a pet very quickly, however with a black snake bite the animal may survive the initial bite, but can suffer from kidney failure within a week of the bite, so it is important to keep them on a drip.
"We have had a few people ring up about their pets being bitten and the animal hasn't made it into the surgery, however of those which have been treated most have survived."
With the forecast hot dry weather continuing, local vets expect more snake bites, according to Warwick Veterinary Clinic veterinarian, Dr Elissa Haley.
"Typically most snakes will try to avoid you or your pets and bite only as a last resort," Dr Haley said.
"While you may wisely decide to simply walk away when you encounter a snake, dogs and cats will often harass the sliding invader and get bitten as a result."
The clinical signs to look for in your pet following a possible snake bite include weakness, ataxia,
paralysis, dilated pupils, tremors, salivation, vomiting and laboured breathing.
Dr Haley said there were tests which could be done to determine if an animal had been bitten.
"It is usually best to check things
out early," she said.
"First aid treatment is also very important to saving the life of pets following snake bite attacks.
"We advise that you keep your pets calm, still and quiet. "
Do not attempt to suck, cut or squeeze the venom out of the animal as this will only increase the blood flow to the area and could spread the poison.
"Bring your vehicle to the animal to reduce movement and seek veterinary advice at the Warwick or Allora Vet Clinics as quickly as possible."
The prognosis for recovery from snake bite depends on many factors but the chance of recovery does improve greatly with the use of the snake antivenom early.
With proper treatment, the survival rates after treatment have been reported to be better for Red Bellied Black victims followed by Brown then Tiger snakes bites.
If you think your pet has been bitten or playing with snakes, please call the Warwick (4661 1105) or Allora (4666 3127) Vet Clinics quickly to get a start on early treatment options.
Snake bite signs...
Clinical signs to look for in your pet following a possible snake bite include:
- Dilated pupils;
- Vomiting; and
- Laboured breathing.