Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : January 17, 2017 Edition Contents PAGE 14 - THE SOUTH GIPPSLAND SENTINEL-TIMES, TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2017
42 Murray St, Wonthaggi
25 a'Beckett St, Inverloch
2/1524 Bass Hwy, Grantville
Bass Coast Health - Central Suites
SAME DAY APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE
Wonthaggi Medical Centre
a'Beckett Street Medical Centre 5674 1207
Hospital Consulting Rooms
Grantville Medical Centre
After hours telephone: 5672 1333
All pensioners, health care card holders
and children under 16 are Bulk Billed
at all locations.
PETS being bitten by snakes is a big prob -
lem in Bass Coast.
It’s not unusual for the Wonthaggi Veteri-
nary Clinic to see as many as 10 dogs or cats
each week over the summer that have been
bitten, or are suspected to have been bitten,
Attacks by Tiger snakes or bites from Cop -
per Head snakes are the most prevalent local-
ly, but black snakes are also a consideration.
Last week was no exception with the onset
of hot weather bringing about a rush in the
number of snake bite victims.
Sadly, some pets don’t survive, however if
the problem is recognised soon enough, sur-
vival rates are good.
“We’re seeing four-a-week as a minimum. It
would be more likely 10-a -week at the mo -
ment, ” s aid Wonthaggi vet, Dr David Beischer.
“They start coming in as soon as the weath-
er warms up, from October onwards, and it
can continue through to April.
“ But, obviously, with the recent burst of hot
weather, the snakes are a lot more active.
“We usually get more dogs than cats, be -
cause the cats are normally a bit smarter
and stay away, but we have been getting a few
more cats lately.
“ They don’t appear to be random attacks.
It’s usually when the animal engages with the
snake that they strike.
“Dogs can even get venom in the mouth
without the onset of venomisation.
“We rely on a couple of tests to see if ven-
omisation has occurred because snakes can
also bite without injecting, ” he said.
Wonthaggi Veterinary Clinic has clearly be -
come very adept at dealing with snake -bitten
pets. Practice makes perfect.
Their tests are conducted in-house.
“ Tiger snake venom can vary in its effect.
There can be signs of blood coagulation
which we can test for. We can also do a clot-
ting test for signs that levels have increased
“ That would be the earliest signs of venomi-
“ We can also do a muscle enzyme test within
an hour of the pet being bitten.
“ We use these two tests as a guide to see if
it has happened. ”
If there’s a likelihood that the pet has been
affected by snake venom, treatment will start
immediately with the animal placed on a drip
to maintain fluid levels and doses of antivenin
Wonthaggi Vets keep the main antivenin on
hand, covering Tiger and Brown snakes.
“I t covers all snakes we are likely to get
“But the pet might require multiple doses, ”
said Dr Beischer.
And that’s where it can get costly. A single
vial of antivenin can cost between $700 and
$800 and sometimes as many as three or
four have to be administered depending on
the size of cat or dog and how much venom
has been injected.
When you add the cost of treatment and
monitoring, it can be quite a costly exercise.
“With treatment we do get good results but
we are aware that it can be expensive.
“We have one fellow at Glen Forbes, the cap -
ital of Tiger Snake territory as far as I can
see, who even went to the trouble of getting
‘ snake aversion treatment’ for his dogs be -
cause they were the sorts of dogs that would
have a go if they saw a snake.
“I’m not sure how that went but the idea
was to train them to stay away from snakes.
It could be an option worth pursuing. ”
Dr Beischer said that cats could be a bit
tricky to diagnose and sometimes they were
monitored for 24 hours for signs of symp -
But he said the main signs to look out for
were a sudden change in the animal’s health.
“If they looked fine and healthy when you
saw them in the morning but appeared to
have suddenly changed, it may be worth get-
ting them checked. ”
Dr Beischer said dogs might be weak in
the back legs, either animal might collapse
or show signs of weakness, which would be
especially a concern if you have seen snakes
You are unlikely to see where the dog or cat
has been bitten.
One local lady, whose cat was bitten by a
snake recently, even had a health scare her-
self after the frightened cat bit her on the
hand while receiving treatment.
Lest she had any referred issues with snake
venom, the lady presented at the Wonthaggi
ED but all’s well that ends well – the cat sur-
vived and so did its owner.
So, summer is snake time in Bass Coast
and South Gippsland and there’s little doubt
it will pay you to keep a close eye on your pets
when they’re out in the open!
Snakebite puts the heat on local vets
Alright now. Wonthaggi Veterinary Clinic nurse, Karena Gow holds ‘Barry’ the cat who is
recovering after being bitten by a snake. He’s not on his own. ms010317
KEEPING your pets safe and sound is a year-
But during the busy holiday season, local
veterinarians are finding themselves inundated
with many injured and ill animals falling victim
to a myriad of maladies.
Vet Nurse Karena Gow from the Wonthaggi
Veterinary Clinic, said that the Christmas pe-
riod was a busy time for staff at the clinic... and
it hasn’t let up since.
“We get a lot of typical Christmas cases, such
as animals getting gastro and suffering from
vomiting and diarrhoea after getting into the
leftovers,” Karena said.
“Foods like Christmas cake can ruin their kid-
neys because of all the sultanas and currants.”
Many animals are treated at the clinic for
poisoning after accidentally ingesting snail bait
from the garden.
“Snail bait in the garden is also an issue
over the holidays. We find people try to tidy
their gardens and homes for when family and
friends come over but then the dog falls ill,”
“Cars are also an issue over the busy times,
too. There are a lot of people rushing about,
and we also have dogs that get out because
they’re startled by New Year’s fireworks.
Just this week I have seen about three dogs
that have been hit or backed over by a car,”
So, how can you help keep your family pet
safe and happy this summer?
“Secure your yard. Making sure that your ani-
mals are microchipped and that your contact
details are up to date, in case your pet does
escape,” Karena said.
“Make sure that your animals are secure in
their yard. Keeping garbage bins away from
pets helps to avoid them from eating something
that they shouldn’t; something that might make
“Also we’d like to warn about pet-friendly
snailbait; it doesn’t work. Animals will still eat
it and get sick. A Labrador is still going to eat
the bait despite the bitter taste, so keep that in
mind when baiting your garden.”
Karena also reminded pet owners to keep
fresh, clean water on hand for animals all the
time, especially during hot days in the summer.
And then, of course, there’s snake bite... but
that’s another story!
With more cars on the roads and loud noises, such as New Year’s Eve fireworks, more dogs
are falling victim to road accidents over the busy summer season. And many of them are
finding their way to inundated local vet clinics. ms030317
Keeping pets safe and happy all summer long
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