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  • Joanne Bibby

Snake Bite

SE Qld’s Venomous Snakes to look out for

  • Eastern Brown

  • Red Bellied Black

  • Coastal Taipan

  • Common Death Adder

All snakes get pretty mad if you prod or poke or accidently disturb them. 95% of snake bites occur when people try to catch or kill them1. The same goes for dogs too; dogs are known for disturbing a peacefully sleeping snake.

Although the above four snakes are highly venomous, consider all snakes as potentially venomous unless you have a reliable identification.

poisoning

Venomous snakes have special glands and teeth designed to inject venom into their prey.

Snake venom is designed to stun, numb, or kill other animals.

It is your job to slow down the flow of venom and the way this is done is to constrict by compression and immobilisation and then get to the Vet.

Depending on the snake species one or more of the following toxins could be present in the snake’s venom:

Myotoxin which can cause muscle damage

Anticoagulant which can stop the blood from clotting

Neurotoxins which affects the nervous system

safety precautions

  • Contact your local snake catchers to find out what snakes are prevalent in your area

  • Keep backyard clear of: equipment; stacked wood; piled leaves; and mowed

  • Keep rats and mice conditions controlled but it you use a baiting method ensure they are dog tamper proof

  • Don’t allow your dog to explore tunnels, drains or in dense bush

  • Keep your dog on a leash when walking in parks and bush lands

  • Inspect your backyard whenever you move your dog outside to play

  • Keep doors closed to stop snakes entering the home

  • Don’t try to catch or kill a snake. If you need to prove identification to your Vet, take a photo but only if safe to do so

If a highly venomous snake bites you or your dog, the consequence will be catastrophic if the anti-venom isn’t administered urgently.

signs & symptoms

Have a look at the following signs and symptoms; a sign will be e.g. the puncture wound and the symptom would be e.g. difficulty breathing.

This list will assist you in diagnosing the dog’s condition as being bitten by a snake.

The most common areas where a dog is bitten are head and face, chest and legs. Bear in mind though that a dog may endure multiple bites, so treat any and all puncture sites regardless of location.

  • 2 puncture wounds would be present however on dogs with double coats it is not as easy to see the bite marks; it will be more likely that you will see the blood and swelling before a bite mark.

  • Profuse bleeding at bite site, although not fast flowing

  • Dog may be trembling, shaking, twitching

  • You may see your dog salivating, drooling, frothing at the mouth

  • Legs become weak

  • Pupils dilated, not responsive to light or slow to react

  • Appears agitated

  • Dyspnoea / Breathing difficulties or breathing becomes shallow

  • Vomiting or urinating blood

  • Gums have become pale or white

  • Body is limp, unable to move (flaccid paralysis)

  • Respiratory failure; no longer breathing

  • Collapse, unconscious, coma but still breathing

  • Cardiac arrest; heart stops beating

Consider all snake bites life threatening if you are unsure whether it is of the venomous variety or not

action

1. Undertake Primary Assessment DRSABC

a. Check for Dangers – a danger may be that the snake is still around your dog. Do not try to catch or kill the snake as you may get bitten

b. Is your dog responding to your voice or your touch? If not your dog may be unconscious

c. Send for help; if there is someone else in the house get them to do things like get the first aid kit, prepare the car, call the Vet. They may help you restrain your dog

d. Check the airway for blockages or foreign objects; remove if there is. It might sound silly but your dog may have had something in their mouth at the time of being bitten

e. Check the breathing (respirations) e.g. count the rise and fall of the chest – start artificial respiration if not breathing

f. Check circulation (pulse) – start CPR if no pulse

2. Keep your dog calm and quiet; restrict pet’s movement

3. Bandage limb with snake compression bandage above and below elbow / knee (entire leg)

4. Use a permanent marker pen to make a mark on the bandage where bite wound is located. Don’t wash venom off wound.

5. Wrap dog in blanket and place in their bed or in a crate

6. If your dog has been bitten on the body or head, place blanket around dog to immobilise

7. Transport smaller dogs in crate or box

8. If you have a driver, sit in the back with the dog stroking and speaking in a soothing manner on way to vet

9. Get to vet

If you have a driver:

  • If your dog stops breathing, begin artificial respiration

  • If your dog’s heart stops beating, begin CPR on the way to the vet surgery

FAMILIARISE YOURSELF with the snakes that are found in your area and where they live

NEVER WASH BITE SITE (leave for venom identification)

NEVER SUCK OUT THE POISON

DON’T CUT SITE TO CAUSE BLEEDING

NEVER TRY TO CATCH THE SNAKE; if you can, take a photo

Reference

1Brisbane Snake Catchers – snakecatchers.com.au (24 hour snake catcher directory SEQld)

Canine Emergency First Aid Guide


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