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Diagnosis of snake envenomation in your pet is often carried out by presenting clinical signs. Each snake bite presents differently, and currently there is no reliable test to accurately diagnose your pet with snake envenomation and to  identify the type of snake your pet was bitten by. 

Signs that your pet may have been bitten include;

  • collapse,

  • vomiting,

  • hypersalivation,

  • trembling,

  • weakness and

  • bleeding.


Your pet may show these signs then apparently ‘recover’ for a period of 20-30 minutes, where after they often start to deteriorate rapidly.

If clinical signs are mild/ have not developed, or if there is any doubt about whether your pet has actually been bitten, we will carry out clotting tests and muscle enzyme assays to assist with the decision of whether to treat with antivenom or not. 

Snake bites contain different types of toxins that can cause varying affects in patients. The main toxins include:

  • Neurotoxins: which cause paralysis of muscles, particularly those involved in respiration.

  • Coagulopathic and haemolytic toxins: causing haemorrhage (bleeding) .

  • Myotoxins: resulting in muscle breakdown and potential renal failure.

The response to and volume of antivenom required to treat your pet is case specific. Pets presented showing minimal clinical signs often respond quickly to a single vial of antivenom. Cases presenting in respiratory and cardiac collapse require multiple vials of antivenom and often mechanical ventilation. The administration of antivenom does not guarantee the survival of your pet.

If you believe your pet may have been bitten by a snake it is essential that you keep them calm and transport your pet to the closest veterinary clinic as soon as possible. Call your clinic so that they can be prepared to commence treatment as soon as possible.

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