Pet Illnesses

Snake Bites

This article appears courtesy of:
Alpine Animal Hospital
7047 Great Alpine Road
Porepunkah, VICTORIA. 3740
Ph: (03) 5756 2444

Spring and Summer Peak Snake Periods

Spring and summer are extremely dangerous period for pets in the Shoalhaven and Illawarra region. The warm weather sees a multitude of snakes appearing in back yards, long grass and the bush.

Envenomation from toxins contained in snake venom is always a serious and life threatening incident and must be treated swiftly to save the life of a pet that has been bitten. 

If your pet is unfortunate enough to have an encounter with a snake you can help by being aware of the signs and symptoms of snake bite, and getting the affected animal to the hospital as quickly as possible. Dogs, cats and horses are all at risk, although curious dogs are the most frequently affected.

Unfortunately, we do lose the ocassional pet before we have a chance to treat them. We suspect snakes coming out of their winter rest have unusually large amounts of potent toxin to ensure they get a quick feed to fill their empty stomachs.

Types of Snakes

Around Berry and Shoalhaven Heads, we see mostly Red Bellied Black snakes. Tiger and Brown snakes are also prevalent, especially on Coolangatta Mountain and adjacent flat lands.


The first clue that a pet has been bitten may just be a small amount of blood on the coat, face or limb with a some soft tissue swelling around a small puncture wound(s).

Depending on the type of snake and how much venom has been injected, an animal bitten by a snake may show any of the following symptoms:

What Type of Snake Bit Your Pet?

There are a few signs that can indicate what type of snake has envenomated your pet:

If you witness the snake biting your pet and can identify it, you should tell us. But don't waste time trying to find it as we stock a multi-snake anti-venom that covers Black, Tiger and Brown snake bites.

Most snake bites in humans occur when people try to kill snakes, often after seeing them bite a pet. It’s generally best to leave the snake alone — it’s just doing what snakes do after all — and concentrate on helping your pet.

Call First!

Phone 4448 5621 (24 Hours) immediately if suspect a snake bite

Calling ahead gives us critical extra time to make necessary preparations to ensure prompt and effective treatment.

When you call, listen very carefully to the announcements, and then call the emergency mobile number on the message (Mark sometimes has a night off with the after hours phone going to another vet).

Please do not come directly to the hospital and wander around the car park. If we are at home, have the after hours going to another vet, or are out on a house call, you will be using up what might be precious time - always call first! It could save your pet’s life. 

Emergency First Aid


At the hospital, treatment for snake envenomation may use some or all of the following techniques/procedures:

Treatment usually involves hospitalisation for at least 24 hours. In some cases your pet may be in the hospital for several days.  After being discharged we recommend they be confined and rested for up to two weeks.

It is possible for your pet to be bitten by a snake and not become envenomated. In cases where clinical and laboratory evidence shows that the animal has not been envenomated we may only need to monitor your pet for any delayed symptoms for 12 – 24 hours.

These days the treatment of snake bite has a good success rate, and with appropriate and timely medical therapy many patients recover completely. But treating snake bite is always arduous for the affected pet, as well as for the vet and the nurses. And a very anxious time for caring pet parents.

PetPlan insuranceThe unfortunate animal will require constant monitoring, day and night, every one or two hours for the first 24 hours then every three hours for the next two days, with high rate intravenous infusions, blood clotting products and regular blood tests. Consequently, it can be expensive, although it may be covered by pet health insurance if you have it. But it’s always better to keep your pets out of likely snake habitat and avoid the risk.


Repellants and Removal

If a snake needs removal from the property, contact WIRES to ask for theie recommended local snake handler.

See also...