Dogs can be quick to investigate their fellow animals when out for a walk. Unfortunately, this can lead to serious consequences if they happen to encounter one of Australia's snake population. In fact, snake bites are a real problem; it has been estimated that 60,000 snake bites occur for dogs across the country each year, and that 15,000 of those dogs bitten will die as a result.
The good news is that your pooch's probability of recovery is going to be much stronger if you are able to treat the problem correctly yourself and take them to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Here are three vital steps to take in case of snake bite.
1. Know the Signs
Firstly, you need to be able to identify the signs that your dog has been subjected to the bite of a snake; after all, you might not see it happen. They will often return to you alarmed, and you may then notice that they become suddenly weak, or even unable to move at all. Further symptoms include twitching muscles, vomiting, and dilated pupils.
If you do notice any such symptoms, it is important to get your dog help right away. Keep in mind that those signs may be more subtle at first; for example, your dog may simply seem a little fatigued rather than incapable of moving. Some snakes are more venomous than others, and the amount of venom injected will depend on several factors, including the size of the snake and when it last bit another animal.
2. Immobilise, then Call the Vet
If you know or suspect that your dog has been bitten by a snake, make sure you immobilise them as quickly as possible. Your dog should be breathing slowly and steadily, without running or jumping around. This is because an elevated heart rate will help the venom spread more quickly through the body. Remember to stay calm yourself; your dog will respond to any stress they sense in you by becoming stressed themselves.
After the dog has been immobilised, call the vet right away and arrange for your dog to be taken into their surgery as quickly as possible. If you can see that the bite occurred along one of your dog's limbs, see if you can place a tight bandage around it to restrict the flow of venom, but do not cut off circulation entirely.
3. Do Not Try to Catch the Snake
One thing you should definitely not do is attempt to catch or kill the snake. Some people will do so because they either believe it will help with diagnosis or simply because they want to kill the snake for attacking their dog. However, you don't want to get bitten yourself, and it can be hard to make a positive identification. If your dog actually managed to kill the snake themselves, you can bring the corpse in to the vet, but never try to kill or catch it yourself.