In the warmer summer months from September to March, snakes become much more
active and pet owners need to be careful to safeguard their pets from snake bite, as well
as know how to recognise the signs and symptoms of snake bite.
Dogs will often try to chase or kill snakes resulting in bites usually to the dog’s face and
legs. Cats, being instinctive hunters, are also quite susceptible to snake bites.
The sort of reaction your pet has to a snake bite is determined by a number of factors: the
species of snake, the amount of venom injected and which part of the body your pet has
been bitten. Generally the closer the bite is to the heart the quicker the venom spreads to
the rest of the body.
Signs & symptoms of snake bite include:
• Sudden weakness followed by collapse
• Shaking or twitching of the muscles and difficulty blinking
• Loss of bladder and bowel control
• Dilated pupils
• Blood in urine
If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake you should keep them calm and quiet and
take them to a vet immediately. Early treatment is the key. If your vet is some distance
away, if practical, you can apply a pressure bandage – a firm bandage over and around
the bite site – to help slow the venom spreading to the heart. Do NOT wash the wound or
apply a tourniquet.
If you can identify the snake, tell your vet what type of snake it is – but don’t try to catch or
kill the snake. If it is dead, take a photo of it and get it identified by a reptile specialist,
otherwise there is a blood, urine and swab test (of the bite site) that can identify whether
your animal has been bitten and the type of snake responsible.
Once the snake has been identified your vet can administer anti-venom. Please be warned
that anti-venom is expensive and can result in a large veterinary bill, so it is best to try and
keep your pets safe and away from snakes in the first place.
• Prevention is always the best control measure, consult a trainer and have your dogs
trained to leave wildlife alone if you notice they have a tendency to chase or kill
• Use a leash when exercising dogs in bushland (particularly near water) or near
sand dunes during the warmer months of the year.
• Keep cats inside at night and be vigilant if you notice them hunting or playing with
• Snake proof your bird cages and pet enclosures with 1cm x 1cm steel mesh. It is
astonishing what snakes will squeeze through to get an easy meal. Pythons are
very strong so ensure there is no way for them to lift or push through openings.