dog07Our own Dr Mark Ethell has featured in an ABC news report on snake bites in dogs

Canberra Veterinary Hospital director Mark Ethell said he personally had not noticed a spike in the number of dog deaths following snake bites.

But he said summer was a high-risk time.

“We see a lot of tiger and brown snakes. We do see red belly snakes just not as often,” he said.

“Luckily this year we have not seen that many just yet. Some years we can see them all the time, possibly a few each week.

“We see a lot of snake bites during the weekend when people are not at work and are more active taking the dogs for walks and a play.

“A classic example is if the owner lets the dog off the lead while walking around a lake or park, and the pet goes into long grass then comes out having a vomit and licking some part of the body, such as the paw.”

Put your dog on a lead and hit the pavement. It’s safer.

Dr Ethell said dogs that had been bitten by snakes typically displayed symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, hyper-salivating, trembling, dilated pupils and collapsing.

“It’s important that owners are aware that a snake bite can happen at any time of the day — even later in the evening when it’s getting darker,” he said.

“We also see these cases later in the afternoon when the owners get home from work and find the pet unwell after being alone at home.”

He said if a dog owners suspected their animal had been bitten they should rush it to the closest open hospital as soon as possible, even if it was not their regular vet.

“When a pet has been bitten the patient is given emergency care that may include oxygen, fluid therapy, anti venom and other medications,” he said.

“Depending on the condition of the pet it may also have a tube placed down the airway so we can breathe for the animal. Emergency drugs may also be required.”

Dr Ethell said it was really important for dog owners to ensure their own backyards were cleared up with nothing for the snakes to hide under.

“This includes mowing the lawn regularly and picking up rubbish,” he said.

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