Snake bite and your pet

As the weather heats up in the Midwest and Geraldton, it is very possible that our four legged friends could cross paths with a snake.  In the Midwest the Gwarder and Dugite account for the majority of snake bites.

Signs of Snake bite

Several factors will determine what sort of reaction your pet has to a snake bite. The amount of venom injected and the site of the snake bite are all contributing factors.

Snake AntiveninDogs and cats are most often bitten around the head and limbs. The closer the bite is to the heart the quicker the venom will be absorbed into the pet’s system and distributed around the body.

At the beginning of summer in Geraldton, snakes venom glands tend to be fuller and their bites at this time are much more severe.  

The early signs of snake bite by a Gwarder or Dugite are:

  • Vomiting and panting.
  • Sudden weakness (don’t be fooled by an apparent recovery) followed by collapse.
  • Vocalisation/distress in cats.
  • Respiratory distress

First Aid

If you suspect snake bite, immobilise your pet and try to keep them as quiet as possible.  It is vital that you take your pet to Sanford Veterinary Clinic as quickly as possible. The sooner your pet is treated, the better their chances of survival.  Don’t let your pet walk- carry them.

Veterinary Treatment

Your pet will be examined by the Vet to determine whether it has been bitten, assessed to determine the stage of reaction and what treatment is required. Treatment usually consists of intravenous fluids and the administration of anti-venom to neutralise the snake venom in the pet’s body. Intensive care maybe needed and the outcome sometimes uncertain.  Snake anti-venoms are expensive to produce and have limited shelf life; these factors are reflected in their high costs. (Think about Pet Insurance!)


Recovery from a snake bite usually occurs within 24 to 48 hours if your pet receives prompt veterinary attention.

Approximately 80% of pets survive snake bite if treated quickly. The survival rate is much lower however for pets that are left untreated, and death often occurs. 

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