Spring has sprung and as we enter the warmer months, our resident snakes will become more active. Kangaroo Island is home to two prominent species of snake, the Black Tiger snake (not always black) and the Pygmy Copperhead snake. Both species exhibit a significant amount of variation in their appearance, however in general terms the Pigmy Copperhead adult snakes do not grow to greater than 1 metre in length.
Pet owners need to be vigilant about identifying if their dog has been bitten and seeking medical advice. The chances of a successful outcome from treatment will be greatly increased by prompt diagnosis and treatment.
As you may not have seen your pet get bitten there are signs that are commonly seen post bite. These include:
With Spring upon us, we’re fighting the snails off our veggie gardens. There are a number of slug and snail baits on the market, often in a pellet form made with ingredients that are attractive to dogs and every year we see very unwell dogs who have eaten the “pet safe” brands of bait.
The most dangerous ingredient in some of these baits is Metaldehyde. Many formulations of pellets, liquid, powder, granule and gel contain this toxin as it is very effective in killing snails and slugs. Unfortunately it can also kill dogs and cats. Metaldehyde effects multiple organ systems but most dramatically the central nervous system. It acts in the brain to reduce the concentrations of “GABA”, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, resulting in brain hyperactivity. The effects can occur within 30 minutes or up to 24 hours after ingestion. We typically see vomiting, hyper-salivation, anxiety, restlessness, rapid heart-rate and panting, hypersensitivity to sound and touch, and flickering eyes. Eventually it progresses to muscle rigidity, seizures, and comas. Pets can and do die from toxicity, often from respiratory failure, multi-organ failure, and blood clotting abnormalities. Animals who survive have become blind for up to 3 weeks.