Pets in danger with snake bites on the rise
SNAKE bites on pets have been four times more common this summer, according to a local vet.
Dr Scott McAuley has been a vet in Gladstone for 12 years and said the number of pets coming in with snake bites was unusually high.
"This week we've had two, which is a lot for us. We usually only have one or two a month," he said.
"They normal don't start until October-ish but this year it started as early as August."
Dr McAuley said 95% of bites were from brown snakes.
"If it's from Taipans and others ones, the animal won't make it or they will be having their last breath when they arrive," he said.
"We only stock the antivenom for brown snakes. That costs $450 a dose, and after the pets are in intensive care it could cost $1000 or more for the little devils."
Susan Williams found her cat Babe on Monday afternoon after it had been bitten.
"She was slumped up against the wall and very floppy," she said.
"I couldn't see the bites but the vet told me it was snake bite."
Babe had been inside all day and was only out in the morning, between when Mrs Williams woke up and went to work.
"I live in South Gladstone and I have only ever seen one snake across the road," she said.
"It's her first snake bite in 15 years so she is doing pretty well."
Babe should be out of intensive care and back home this afternoon.
What it costs when your pet gets bitten:
- Call out for a vet
- $900 for two doses of antivenom
- Vet consultation
- Put on a drip for up to a week
- Length of stay in hospital
How antivenom works
TO save the life of a dog or cat after a brown snake bite, antivenom is needed.
Australian Veterinary Serum Laboratories manufactures the antivenom used by the Gladstone Veterinary Clinic.
Dr Nick Jones from AVSL said the company created the antibodies in sheep.
"We inject small amounts of venom in them and they become immunised against the venom," he said.
"With a boost to their immune system they become hyper-immunised and create lots of antibodies."
AVSL draws blood from the sheep and uses a filtering process to create the serum.
The sheep are given venom from all types of brown snake so the antivenom can fight different toxins.
Dr Jones said the key was to treat the venom as soon as possible.
"It's important to stop the venom before it is bound to receptors and it's too late," he said.
"It can take several days to a week to neutralise the venom."