Snake antivenom saves lives

Lort Smith Animal Hospital is urging pet carers to be on alert when walking their dogs in parks; and to keep an eye out in their backyards.

“The warmer weather is drawing venomous snakes out in suburbs across Melbourne. It’s important that pet carers are vigilant” said Dr Andrew Kapsis, Head Veterinarian of Inpatients at Lort Smith Animal Hospital.

“Pet carers need to be aware of the typical signs of a snake bite as you may not see your pet get bitten,” added Dr Kapsis.

Signs of snake envenomation include: vomiting, salivation, dilated pupils, and sudden weakness followed by collapse.

Rex, a two-year-old German shepherd was bitten while on an afternoon walk recently. He survived thanks to the quick action of his carer.

Rex was taken to his local Animal Emergency Centre after his carer noticed Rex had difficulty walking after an afternoon walk in the park in the Frankston area. He then travelled to Lort Smith for additional antivenom treatment and 24/7 care in the Animal Hospital.

Over the next five days Rex received supportive fluid treatment until he was ready to go home.

“Snake bites can be fatal,” said Dr Kapsis. “If you believe your pet has been bitten, it is critical that you seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.”

Dr Kapsis warned pet owners against taking on the snake: “Under no circumstance should you attempt to kill or bring the snake into the clinic, as you may get bitten. We have tests to confirm snake bites.”

Earlier this year, British short hair Trixie also spent three days at Lort Smith for a confirmed brown snake bite.

“My husband found a snake on the porch, stationery. He called the council to see what to do, then he called the snake catcher,” said Trixie’s carer, Clelia.

After calling the snake catcher the family brought in their dog, but couldn’t find Trixie anywhere.

“Trixie comes when she’s called. So when she didn’t, I knew something was wrong,” said Clelia.

The family found her in the neighbour’s yard looking very unwell. They brought her into Lort Smith Animal Hospital where she received immediate antivenom treatment and supportive fluid treatment over the following three days.

Since her treatment in January this year Trixie has had no side effects and is back to her normal self.

People can reduce the chance of their pet being bitten by:

  • Tidying up the backyard and reducing the number of places where snakes may hide, such as in long grass or underneath metal and timber scraps
  • Controlling vermin such as rats or mice that may attract snakes
  • Keeping dogs on leads during walks, particularly near long grass or bushland or creeks.

Lort Smith always has anti-venom on hand, and although it is an expensive remedy, it is most effective if administered soon after the bite occurs. With early detection of a snake bite, intense treatment and monitoring there is a good chance that your pet will survive a snake bite.