Snake bite (envenomation) is unfortunately quite common in Perth, particularly in the warmer months. The most common cases involve the dugite, king brown (mulga snake) tiger and the king brown snakes who live near acreage, on farm blocks and around the lakes surrounding Joondalup.
If you think there is any chance that your pet has been bitten by a snake bite do not read any further but go straight to the vet as every minute counts and contributes to your pets chances of survival. There is no need to catch the snake as a urinary test will let us know what type of snake bite occured.
Some of the common symptoms include progressive weakness, paralysis, dilated pupils, vomiting, bloody urine, dilated pupils, seizures and collapse with sudden death.
Australian snakes produce nerve, muscle and hemolytic toxins which damage the red blood cells and cause paralysis. The challenge for any pet owner is the sudden change in your pet, one moment they look normal then they collapse without warning as the venom travels through their system.
The challenge for pet owners is to notice the symptoms early enough and be close to a vet clinic or emergency centre that is carry antivenin. Sometimes there is limited time and your vet will make a decision based on the signs and behaviour of your pet.
There is a highly accurate snake venom test that detects the snake venom is in your pets system and analyses the type of snake. The test is run on urine or blood and often used, but in emergency situations when it can been seen that your pets health is deteriorating there is no time to run the test and treatment is recommended to commence immediately.
Specific antivenin or combined antivenin is given depending on the situation. In some situations, antihistamines are given as an alternative as your pet may be allergic to the antivenin. Antivenin is extremely expensive and multiple doses are often needed. Intravenous fluids are essential to flush out toxins and support vital organs such as the kidneys.
The earlier that treatment is administered the more successful the vet team are at saving your pets life. There are numerous risks associated with snake bite and for your pets these many include bleeding, kidney damage, red blood cell damage, stroke and muscle damage. Patients may need assistance to breathe and spend many days in hospital recovering.
Unfortunately, the percentage of pets who do not survive is sadly quite high and highly dependent on family being home and noticing a change in their pets.