It’s that time of year again, and you may have noticed the many warnings appearing in the media in relation to snakes. These warnings are not exaggerating the risk.

The Western Sydney Emergency Service, operating from Nepean Animal Hospital, treated more than 10 cases of snake bite in October alone.

Sia the Dachshund is one of the patients we treated during October. Sia’s owners brought her into our Nepean Animal Hospital after they found her near a brown snake in their backyard in Silverdale.

Unsure if she had been bitten by the snake, as she did not appear ill, attending vet Dr Darlene examined her and took some blood to run tests to confirm she had been bitten and a snake venom detection kit was used to help to confirm the type of snake.

While the tests were running Sia suddenly collapsed and stopped breathing.

Sia was believed to have been bitten by the brown snake. Often with snake bites, animals will collapse initially, can then appear fine, then suddenly collapse again, deteriorating very quickly. Sia was immediately moved into intensive care and placed on a life support machine. The machinery took over her breathing, provided IV fluids, kept her body temperature stable as well as monitoring all her vital signs. Sia was given two vials of snake anti-venom within the first hour of her treatment.

Within a few hours Sia was able to breath on her own, however she was still critically ill. Further tests showed that her blood was not clotting properly and that her liver was badly damaged. Based on the results of the tests another vial of antivenom was administered.

By morning her blood clotting times had returned to normal and she was up and walking around. Although she felt a little nauseous Sia had improved greatly.

Sia’s encounter with a brown snake has caused serious damage to her liver. Organ damage is common in patients whom have been bitten by venomous Australian snakes, including Black snakes, Tiger snakes and Brown snakes. Sia’s is now on a special liver diet, and she will need to have regular checks with her vet to ensure her liver doesn’t deteriorate. Thankfully, acute damage to a patients liver holds a far better prognosis than chronic damage (such as long-term alcohol abuse).

The good news is that Sia is alive! Thanks to the quick actions of her observant owners and the attending Vets and Nurses at WellPet.

All the WellPet Animal Hospitals (Nepean, Mountains and St Clair) carry anti-venom for brown snakes, red bellied black snakes and tiger snakes. Should you have any reason to suspect your pet has been bitten by one of these snakes then you should attend one of our hospitals with your pet immediately. The only effective treatment for snake envenomation is prompt administration of the apprioriate anti-venom.

DO NOT try and kill or capture the snake. This is a dangerous waste of time. If you can see the snake then move away quickly. We do not need to see the snake to treat your pet. We can normally identify the species of snake involved from the symptoms being displayed by your pet. In addition our antivenom is multivalent, treating for Tiger, Brown and Black snakes.

Remember if you are bitten by a snake, then who will bring your beloved pet to the vet?

This is an appropriate time to mention pet insurance. The treatment for a snake bite is expensive; due to the cost of the anti-venom and the critical care required. If you have pet insurance that covers these types of emergencies then you can focus on providing your pet with the best care, rather than worry about the unexpected cost for life saving treatment.

If you do need the snake relocated, then call WIRES (89773309) or Australian Snake Catchers (Sean – 0410761575).

As you know, we have vets and nurses on site at Nepean Animal Hospital 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. So if you are unsure if your local vet is open please don’t delay and come to us at 50 Mulgoa Rd, Regentville or call us on 1300 WELLPET.

1 Comment
  • Denise Stott 10/11/2016 4:35 am

    My 8 year old labrador was bitten by a red bellied black snake, within days of our recent move to Katoomba. She required 2 (3?), vials of anti venom, and two days on an intravenous drip at the veterinary surgery. She survived. However, the emotional and financial toll on us has been huge. The vets told us a number of animals have died of snakebites since the beginning of the season.. I am now frightened to walk the dogs. A recent article in the SMH reported that snake populations have risen in Sydney suburbs such as Chatswood and Lindfield, due to higher than average winter rainfalls. I certainly hope Katoomba did not experience higher than average winter rainfalls.

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