Australia is home to 20 of the 25 most venomous snakes in the world. In fact, Australia is home to the entire list of the top 10 most venomous snakes in the world! So, as much as we are the envy of the rest of the world with our lazy hot summer days, the next few months are the time of year when our fur babies are most vulnerable as it’s the warmer months of the year when the majority of snakes are most active in your cat and dogs’ environment.

During the warmer months, the majority of snakes come out of their equivalent of hibernation – referred to as brumation. If your pet is bitten, depending on the type of snake and the amount of venom injected, if left untreated the outcome can be fatal. To ensure the safety of your much-loved companion, it’s important whilst at home, and out and about in snake prone areas, that you remain vigilant and in the event of a snake bite, seek emergency veterinary assistance.

snakes and dogsSnakes generally bite dogs and cats around their mouths, ankles and legs. Indicators of snake bites and symptoms of venom poisoning can occur very fast and depending on the amount of venom released, will determine the seriousness of the bite. Most pets will display similar signs when bitten by a venomous snake:

  • Pain and swelling around the site of the bite
  • Bleeding from the bite
  • Panting and/or difficulty breathing
  • Sluggish behaviour
  • Dilated pupils
  • Salivation and/or vomiting
  • Trembling and/or whimpering
  • Pacing around anxiously
  • Limping
  • Sluggish behaviour
  • Collapse
  • Paralysis

If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake, immediately take them to a vet for emergency care.

How to protect your pet from snakes

With Australia being home to such a high number of venomous snakes, as well as having one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world, these two elements alone can create the perfect storm… Add in our pets’ inquisitive natures and there being no method to teach them not chase or be defensive around a snake, the best form of protection is to keep your animals away from them!

curious cats and snakesSome basic precautions you can take are:

  • Clear back garden undergrowth and regularly mow the lawn, keeping your property clear of rubbish and other objects where snakes may be able to hide (e.g. wood piles).
  • Ensure no spilled food (including pet food and bird seed) which can attract rodents and therefore snakes.
  • Store any firewood away from the house.
  • Walk your dog on a lead and don’t let them explore holes or dig under rocks in snake prone areas
  • Don’t let your pet examine dead snakes as they could still be venomous – or playing dead
  • If snakes are common in your area, keep your cat indoors as much as possible over the summer months

As much as this advice is related to the warmer months, it is important to always remain vigilant as some venomous snakes thrive in colder climates. If you need further support around this issue, Your PetPA offers vet care and advice via our website and App – you can book a vet chat, speak with a nurse online or access our education resources, all from the comfort of your own home. However, if you believe your pet may have been bitten by a snake, then you will need to take them to a clinic to be seen in person urgently.