Snakes are on the move.
Snakes are on the move.

Pets and snakes: bite symptoms can be confusing

With reports of Central Queensland residents being bitten by snakes still coming in each week, spare a thought for your faithful pets who can't tell you when they've found something nasty in the garden.

Dr Greg Muir of Alma St Veterinary Clinic said the worst snake bites occurred around September when the snakes woke up hungry from winter hibernation and full of venom.

But if the recent rains have forced resting snakes out of their territory, they can get cranky.

"Pets are more likely to get bitten than people because they're out snuffling around the garden, in and out of long grass," Dr Muir said.

"It's very difficult to spot a bite on an animal, so the first thing an owner is going to notice is either blood or the animal will collapse."

Sometimes, the venom causes a pet to bleed from its nose or mouth.

 

Dr Greg Muir and nurse Tamara Gal treat a sea turtle at the Alma Street Veterinary Hospital.
Dr Greg Muir and nurse Tamara Gal treat a sea turtle at the Alma Street Veterinary Hospital.

More often, though, the animal will become paralysed.

Owners who see their pets around a snake but don't know if it has been bitten shouldn't go on first appearances, Dr Muir said.

"It can take a while for symptoms of paralysis to show or, quite often, the animal will appear to make a recovery only to relapse later.

"If they collapse, even for a short while, it's really important to get them in for us to take a look."

Vets use either a urine or blood clotting test to confirm diagnosis before administering antivenene.

Other causes for pet illness can include poisonous plants, such as toxic mushrooms, but are most often linked to household baits.

"When we have a rat problem, we see a lot of pet poisonings. They find bait lying around and eat it."



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