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How To Handle A Pet Snake Bite Emergency

It is common for pets to collapse immediately after being bitten by a snake and then improve and start moving around. This doesn’t mean they are ok and their condition will usually deteriorate 1 to 48 hours after the bite.


Bites are usually inflicted on or around the head, neck and front legs and it is often difficult to find the bite. Symptoms can include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Weakness in limbs
  • Collapse
  • Trembling
  • Drooling
  • Pale gums
  • Pacing anxiously
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Paralysis


Snake bite is an emergency situation and the sooner your pet receives medical treatment the better. If you suspect your pet may have been bitten by a snake these steps should be followed:

  • Don’t try to catch the snake. Snakes can still bite you hours after dying.
  • Take a photo (from a safe distance) or remember the markings on the snake as this will assist with treatment.
  • Keep your pet calm and quiet.
  • Carry your pet to the car. Do not allow your pet to walk if you can help it.
  • Don’t offer them any water or food.
  • Transport your pet to your vet immediately, or if it is after hours, to an emergency vet hospital.
  • If you have any other pets who may have come in contact with the snake, bring them in for checking, even if they appear normal.


Being inquisitive creatures dogs and cats often receive snake bites due to their hunting and chasing instincts. We advise avoiding walks in long grassy areas and not allowing your pets to explore holes or dig under rocks.


Barkley and Baxter’s story

Shontelle noticed these two curious pups playing with a snake in the backyard and soon after Barkley collapsed. Shontelle rushed him to our Animal Referral Hospital where the photo she took of the snake allowed us to identify that it was likely venomous.


Barkley’s blood clotting times were significantly prolonged showing he had been bitten by the snake and antivenom was started immediately. Reactions to antivenom are possible and close monitoring of Barkley was required during the 30 mins that the antivenom was being administered.


We were also able to test Baxter and because his clotting times were normal he was able to go home, while Barkley was hospitalised. This is incredibly important as often in snake bite cases a pet can appear normal and then deteriorate quickly afterwards.


Within four hours of being treated with anitvenom Barkley was able to walk normally again. It took 24 hours for his blood clotting tests to normalise, and once he had no signs of bleeding or red cell breakdown he was able to go home. He is one of the lucky ones who survived a snake bite and we don’t foresee any long-term complications as a result.


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