ExcelVets Robina

237 Scottsdale Dr
Robina Qld 4226
Phone: 07 5562 5777
Fax: 07 5562 5522

Business Hours

8:00 - 5:30 Mon - Fri
8:30 - 11:30 Sat

After Hours Emergency

07 5559 1599


Snake Bite

How can you protect your pet over the summer period?

Believe it or not, most snakes actually DO try and avoid both you and your pets. Their aim in life is not actually to wait for the moment, where they can bite you or your dog or cat. In fact, despite there being many snakes around South East Queensland, we don't often see them.

Snakes sense the vibration of your approaching footsteps and movement, and the majority of snakes generally tend to escape as quickly as possible into the bush or undergrowth. Yes, they are scared of us too!! Most of the time, it is when we surprise them, or they are cornered and cannot escape, that they will attempt to attack you.

Following a few common sense strategies, humans are able to reduce the risk of being bitten by a snake.

  • We can wear boots and long pants when we are bush-walking
  • We can always walk cautiously and look at the ground in front of us in high risk areas when we are walking
  • We use a torch when we are walking at night time
  • We don't put our hands into cracks in rocks or old logs without checking them first

Dogs and some cats however, are a different matter entirely. They don't carefully check the ground ahead to make sure there are no snakes. In fact, for many cats and dogs, they do the exact opposite. Their natural inquisitive nature, hunting instincts and curiosity take over. When they see or hear the grass rustle from a snake leaving the area, they think it is a great game to search for and hunt the snake down. The unfortunate side of this is that they may get bitten as a consequence.

When are snakes more likely to bite?

Snakes hibernate in the winter, and are generally inactive during these cooler months. They are active in the summer months, typically from September to April, hence this is the time when snake bites usually occur.

What venomous snakes are responsible for causing envenomation of domestic pets here on the Gold Coast?
The most common venomous snakes in South - Eastern Queensland, and on the Gold Coast causing envenomation of pets, are:

  • Eastern Brown snake
  • Red Bellied Black snake
  • Small Eyed snake
  • Tiger snake

Less common bites are from:

  • Rough scaled snake
  • Death Adder
  • Black snake (mulga, king brown)

Clinical signs of snake bite

The clinical signs of snake bite are dependant on the species of snake, the amount of venom injected, the site of the bite and the amount of time that has elapsed since the bite occurred. Snake envenomations lead to paralysis, as well as species specific issues such as muscle damage (Tiger Snake); clotting disorders (Brown, Tiger and Taipan snakes) and red blood cell breakdown (Black and Taipan snakes).

The bite site can be painless. There may be fang marks, however this is not always the case. Often there can just be evidence of a few scratch marks. Some local swelling, bruising or bleeding may be present at the bite site, however significant skin and muscle damage at the site is not common with Australian snake bites.

Signs of a snake bite can be varied. They may show some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting (vomit may contain blood)
  • Excess salivation
  • wWakness and collapse, paralysis
  • Shaking or twitching of muscles
  • Laboured breathing
  • Blood in the urine
  • Altered vocal sounds
  • Dilated pupils and drooping eyelids
  • Disorientation

Diagnosis of snake bite

If you saw the snake bite your pet, and your pet develops clinical signs, you know the diagnosis is consistent with a venomous snake bite. If you did not see a snake, but your pet is showing clinical signs consistent with a snake bite, you live in a high risk area and it is in the warmer months, you need to consider that snake bite is high on the differential diagnosis list.

Confirmation of the diagnosis of snake envenomation can be made via snake venom detection kits (which can identify the snake from blood or urine for up to 48 hours after the bite). Blood clotting times can also assist in confirming the diagnosis.

Treatment of snake bite

The life saving treatment for snake bite, is the administration of anti-venom. As the venom affects a lot of the vital organs, intensive supportive therapy is also required, to pull them through. Supportive therapies need to be continued until the clinical signs resolve, and may include:

  • Intravenous fluids
  • Oxygen
  • Urinary Catheter / Bladder care – as some pets with snake bite pets lose control of their bladder when paralysed
  • Ventilation – a machine is used to breathe for our pets if they are not able to breathe for themselves
  • Blood transfusions are sometimes required
  • Patients are to remain hospitalised until they can walk, eat and drink normally
  • Blood tests may be required to check on organ damage and to assess the rate of improvement.


When a snake bites, venom is injected via the fangs, deep into the tissue below the skin. The venom is absorbed rapidly. It carries a large range of toxins that cause a lot of damage to tissues and can impair vital functions. To stop this damage, it is vital to get your pet to a vet as soon as you realise it has been bitten by a snake. The survival rate for pets bitten by a dangerous snake is approximately 80%. This rate is a lot lower if left untreated, and death can occur quickly.


Some important things to remember:

Reduce the risk of your pet being bitten by a snake by not letting them run free into thick bushland during the summer or high-risk periods for snakes.

  • If you hear your pet barking, chasing or pursuing something that may be a snake, restrain them and take them away as quickly as possible
  • If your pet has been bitten, DO NOT TRY TO CATCH OR KILL the snake responsible, or you will put yourself at risk
  • If a snake continues to pose a threat to you or your pets, you can call a professional snake handler to relocate the snake
  • If you see a snake, the best way to avoid being bitten is simply to leave the snake alone


In addition:

  • Do not interfere with a snake if pets or other people have already provoked it
  • Do not handle injured snakes. A hurt animal is a much more dangerous animal, as it is fighting for its life
  • Know appropriate first aid for treating snake bites

So please remember to take care, and use common sense to avoid “The Deadly Bite”, but if it does occur, “get your pet to the vet as soon as possible”.