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'Dogs can die within 10 seconds': vet's snake season warning

Jack the Yorkshire terrier cross being treated with brown snake antivenom at the Lismore Veterinary Clinic.
Jack the Yorkshire terrier cross being treated with brown snake antivenom at the Lismore Veterinary Clinic. Contributed

SNAKE venom that liquefies human organs has the same effect on pets - only they're not able to articulate they've been bitten.

Local veterinarians say it's a particular concern going into warmer months when both venomous snakes and ticks become more active.

Jack the Yorkshire terrier cross knows all too well the damage a snake bite can do.

MORE: The ten most dramatic snake encounters in recent Northern Rivers history

The unlucky pooch had to have two doses of brown snake antivenom after being bitten in Goonellabah on September 9.

Fortunately, after two nights at the Lismore Veterinary Clinic, Jack was sent home in a much better condition.

Lismore Veterinary Clinic veterinarian Dr Nick Jones said brown snakes were the most common snake bites treated.

BEWARE: A brown snake on display at Macadamia Castle, Knockrow. Adult eastern brown snakes vary greatly in colour from shades of brown to pale fawn and even black.
BEWARE: A brown snake on display at Macadamia Castle, Knockrow. Adult eastern brown snakes vary greatly in colour from shades of brown to pale fawn and even black. Marc Stapelberg

SNAKE BITE SIGNS IN PETS:

  • Sudden weakness followed by collapse
  • Bleeding puncture wound
  • Swelling of the bitten area
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Neurological signs such as twitching, drooling and shaking
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Dilated pupils
  • Paralysis.

SOURCE: Australian Veterinary Association

"The brown snake around here is definitely the most common," he said.

"Some dogs can die within 10 seconds, if the snake hasn't fed for a while and they're quite full of venom."

Dr Jones said August and September through to Christmas were the peak times for ticks with snake season following close behind.

Shaw's Veterinary Hospital veterinarian Dr Roslyn Fitzgerald said the symptoms for both snake and tick bites could vary in pets and be difficult to diagnose.

"Some of these cases can get very very complicated because it's not clear cut if you don't find the tick," she said.

"Our advice is, if you have any symptoms at all, that is a gag, a little vomit, having a bit of breathing problems, or any wobbles and you find a tick, don't remove them, get them to a vet."

Dr Fitzgerald said pet owners who live in built-up residential areas should be careful not to become complacent about snake and tick bites.

"It's always a false security just being in a town house," she said.

"Last summer I had a jack russell and a dachshund bitten by a snake in town houses in Ballina."

Macadamia Castle zoo keeper Georgia Shapter said the temperature gauge only has to rise to about 20 degrees before snakes start becoming more active.

She said coastal carpet pythons, eastern brown snakes and red bellied black snakes were the most common species on the Northern Rivers.

Topics:  animals lismore northern rivers pets snake season spring ticks


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