What do I need to know about Snake Season?
The risk snakes pose to our pets is much more common than you would think. Pet Insurance Australia is issuing a timely reminder to all pet owners in Australia about the looming danger of snakes. PLUS: Top tips on how to discourage snakes from your property.
“Snake season has certainly arrived,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “Around this time of year, until the end of summer, we commonly see a spike in claims related to snake bites around Australia.”
With Australia being home to 10 of the most venomous snakes in the world it’s no surprise our curious pets can be in harm’s way.
“Many of these sleepy snakes are now waking with the arrival of the warmer weather,” Crighton warns. “Sadly, many pets can see these slow slithering snakes as a curious object and even a toy leading to an increase in bites.”
The top two postcodes for snake bite claims were both in NSW – Bungendore, and Queanbeyan, however right across Australia the numbers range from 18 to 524.
“Since 2013, Pet Insurance Australia’s underwriter, PetSure, has paid more than $4.2 million in claims for dogs suffering from snake bites,” Crighton says. “More than $1 million was also paid for cat claims in this period of time, signaling just how common this type of injury is.”
Pet Insurance Australia is also quick to remind readers that this is only a glimpse of the total cases vets are witnessing.
“Remembering that this is only a snapshot from those who have pet insurance,” Crighton says. “The actual numbers of affected pets would be much higher.”
What does snake venom do to a pet?
- lower motor neurone paralysis
- prolonged or excessive bleeding
- rupturing of red blood cells (haemolysis)
- muscular weakness
“Unfortunately, treatment can be very costly,” Crighton says. “Anti-venom, hospitalisation and necessary supportive care is normally required, and in some cases even mechanical ventilation is required to help the affected pet breathe.”
Animals on ventilators may require multiple vials of anti-venom, which also increases the cost of treatment. Up to 10 vials could be used on some dogs in order to save their lives.
- swollen painful bites around the head, neck or front legs (most common)
“The bite area may be red and painful,” Crighton says. “Your pet may collapse initially and then be normal shortly afterward, so if you even suspect your pet has been bitten, seek veterinary advice quickly.”
- Keep your dog on leash through grassy/bushland areas or avoid walking in these areas completely over spring and summer. This is particularly important if you live in a known snake area.
- Keep grass short, and free from rubbish and other ‘snake hiding spots’ like wood piles.
- Turn-off and empty any water features from around your home.
- Check for snake skins – if you suspect you have a snake on your property seek help from a professional snake remover.
“You can also consider adding in some snake-proof dog training,” Crighton says. “There are many professional training establishments who can help, for instance; Pets Boarding & Training in Sydney. Their experienced and professional dog handlers can help you train your pet to stay away from snakes.”
STATS SPRING/SUMMER CLAIMS STATE BY STATE 2018:
*stats PetSure (Australia)