Forget about snakes on a plane! What about your yard? Dogs are inquisitive and have excellent reflexes but are seldom a match for a venomous snake. Even the tidiest of properties can have snake encounters. Whilst cluttered or overgrown yards provide more shelter for snakes they can still turn up in a tidy yard for a drink, passing through, or even be dropped by a predatory bird. Having other reptiles living around the garden is not a deterrent to snakes, which may even make lunch of them.
Snakes have the capacity to bite ‘rapid fire’ several times within a second. Generally, their move is to deliver one effective bite and then get out of the way before they are trampled. If their head is severed from their body, it may still move afterwards, and the body of a snake is well known for retaining its reflexes even when severely injured. A bite is still possible for some time after decapitation.
If your dog has been bitten by a venomous snake keep the dog as still as possible because physical activity will accelerate the effect of venom in the bloodstream. Symptoms may include vomiting, blood in the urine, sudden weakness or collapse, shaking, twitching or dilated pupils. Try to keep other dogs and people away from the site in case the snake is still around.
Once a dog is at the vet surgery, a test kit will be used to determine an idea of the type of snake involved. Some anti-venoms treat a number of species so please do not put yourself in danger trying to injure or capture the snake. Native snake species are protected, and you could also become the next victim. Leave ‘picking up snakes’ to professional insured snake handlers. If safe to do so, keep an eye on the snake. If indoors, close the door behind you and jam a towel into the gap under the door.
Remember that it is not only bites which can be fatal. Both humans and dogs have succumbed to poisoning when venom was left on fur or clothing. Getting your dog to the emergency clinic quickly gives the best chance of survival.
Leah & Angela O’Meara
Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)