Monday, 17 September 2007

Dogs and snakes in Melbourne - in September

I was down in Darebin Parklands weeding today - without Penny, thank goodness - and had a close encounter with a snake. It was down on the creek bank on the Rockbeare Park side. That's the Ivanhoe side, where dogs aren't allowed off-lead anyway. It was about a metre long and took off towards the water when I approached it.

Given that Penny and I had a really scary, very close encounter with a frightened snake on May 2, also down along the creek, it seems that in future we will have to live with snakes for nine months of the year. Most sources I've consulted on snakes in Melbourne (and probably around Australia in general) predict that these reptiles will be regular denizens of suburbia because they will come close to habitation looking for water.

I was interested to hear a reptile expert say last year that the venom flows through the lymphatic system of a mammal's body. That's why it's important to keep the dog still if bitten. If the muscles don't move, the venom will not spread so quickly.

I've been collecting information about snake-bitten dogs because I want to recognise the symptoms in an emergency and I want to act as quickly as possible for the best outcome. You might realise by now that I'm one of the all-time great worriers...

The best site, I thought, is at Pet Alert , a voluntary organisation aimed at reuniting lost pets with their owners.

Dr Julie Summerfield, a vet in Sydney, has written a clear and helpful article on snakebites in pets and how to deal with them. She says basically that you should carry your pet immediately to the nearest vet. Restrict movement, keep the pet calm, apply a pressure bandage but not a tourniquet. Don't wash or clean the wound in any way, because at the vet hospital they might be able to work out what venom is on the wound site.

Another interesting article is at Petalia.

Here's one written by a person in Perthand another by the
University of Melbourne.

A more technical discussion of veterinary treatment is written by the Australian Venom Research Unit.

1 comment:

missy. said...

I didn't really want to hear that the snakes are out already! I hate the snake season. The dogs don't know that they have to stay strictly on the path and they want to wander off into the long grass. I will try to avoid the parks with snakes - Merri Creek has lots of snakes apparently. So it might be time to start walking in the streets again - but it is so early in spring!