First Aid after a Snake Bite

Posted by Belinda Bird on

Last week we discussed the Top 10 venomous snakes in Australia, their location, common name and description. We also described the common signs and symptoms.



In this article, we are going to explain the first aid treatment that your cat or dog will require in the instance of a snake bite, and to help make sure you are as prepared as possible.



Spring is commonly the most active month for snakes, but warmer weather, in general, brings snakes out exploring.





Common signs and symptoms of a Snake Bite 

  • Weakness or severe lethargy and collapse
  • Shaking or twitching
  • Dilated pupils or difficulty blinking
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Blood in urine
  • Ataxia (loss of function of body movements) which could be seen as difficulty walking
  • Breathing difficulties (rapid and shallow)
  • Excessive salivation (drooling)
  • Bleeding from snake bite wound
  • Paralysis
  • Coma or death



It is important to remember that only some or all of the above symptoms may affect your dog or cat, and if you do at all suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake, you must seek medical attention immediately. This is an emergency!



Never try to identify the snake that bit your dog or cat. While there is no harm in taking a guess when telling the vet, you could put yourself and your pet at greater risk by trying to get close to a snake to identify it. 



You do NOT need to take the snake to the vet with you if your pet is bitten. Trying to capture or kill a snake is illegal and extremely dangerous. 

If you see a snake, or one has bitten your dog or cat, immediately call a snake catcher to your property and get your dog to a vet. 




  1. Most importantly, keep calm yourself and control your own emotions.
  2. Keep your pet still and as calm as possible and reduce stimulus around him.
  3. Remove people who will make the situation worse.
  4. Do NOT wash the wound;  Do NOT apply a tourniquet, Do NOT apply ice or alcohol or bleed the wound. These approaches do not work and are just wasting time. 
  5. NEVER try to catch or kill the snake yourself.
  6. If you can SAFELY get a photo of the snake, then do so, otherwise, leave it.
  7. IMMEDIATELY transport your pet to the vet
  8. If you can, have someone CALL AHEAD to inform the Clinic that you are on your way





Approximately 80% of pets survive a snake bite if treated quickly. The survival rate is much lower however for pets that are left untreated, and death can occur.

Recovery from a snake bite usually takes 24 to 48 hours if the pet receives prompt veterinary attention and the snake bite is not severe. However, some pets will take substantially longer to make a full recovery due to tissue damage to internal organs and will require intensive and prolonged nursing care.


Every pet and every scenario is different.




In your home you can ensure your yard is cleaned up on a regular basis, including filling in holes, collecting of leaves and rubbish, and removing any food scraps.


While you are out and about it is a good idea to keep your dog on a lead and not let them sniff or dig around under logs and rocks where snakes are more likely to be hiding.


Obedience training is also a key, as having control over your dog can mean the difference between them walking in the direction of a snake or preventing them from trying to play with one.


If you find a snake at home, it is always best to contact your local snake catcher to come and collect it.



I would love to hear any feedback or experiences that you have!


 Belinda Bird 




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