Snake Bites 101

Every year in Australia thousands of family pets are bitten by snakes, the types of snake vary depending on where in Australia the bite occurred. Here in Canberra the most common snakes we encounter are Brown Snakes followed by Tiger Snakes and less commonly Red-Bellied Black Snakes.

As snakes hibernate during the colder months the vast majority of snake bites take place in the Spring/Summer months. Snakes are commonly found in areas with long grass, rocks and other hiding holes, often near a fresh water source such as a creek or dam.

It is important to remember that most snakes will try to avoid you and your pets. However, whilst we humans may simply walk away from a snake, our pet’s are inquisitive, armed with natural hunting instincts and when given the chance, will harass snakes often resulting in snake bites.

What can I do to prevent a snake bite to my pet?

  • Avoid areas with grass any longer than ankle height
  • Always keep your dog on lead when walking
  • Do not let your dog investigate off path/in long grass
  • Keep your backyard tidy, mowed and remove any rubbish that would make a nice hiding spot for a snake
  • Consider building a cat enclosure for cats that like to venture outdoors

What are the signs of snake bites that I should be aware of?

There are several factors that may determine the reaction your pet may have to a snake bite. These can include the type of snake, where on the body your pet was bitten and how much venom was injected.

Signs and symptoms of snake bites vary but can often show some of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Sudden weakness
  • Collapse (can seem to ‘recover’ shortly after)
  • Twitching of the muscles
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Dilated pupils non-responsive to light

And in later stages:

  • Blood in urine
  • Paralysis

I think my pet has been bitten by a snake, what should I do?

If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake you should keep them as quiet/still as possible whilst seeking immediate veterinary attention. The sooner your pet is treated the better their chances of survival.

Unless you are certain the snake is dead do not put yourself at risk trying to identify it.

Variations in colour of the Eastern Brown Snake.

What will the Vet do to treat my pet?

Once you arrive at the Vet they may recommend a series of tests to determine whether a snake bite has occurred.
After receiving confirmation of a snake bite your pet will be placed on intravenous fluids and possibly oxygen depending on their current condition.
Your vet will administer the appropriate anti venom to your pet slowly whilst intensive monitoring and supportive care continues.
Subject to your pets reaction to the anti venom occasionally more than one vial is needed.
Depending on the severity of your pets condition, intensive nursing, hospitalisation and supportive care such as IV fluids and oxygen may be necessary for a number of days whilst they recover.

What is my pet’s prognosis?

Approximately 80% of pets survive snake bites if treated quickly.
The survival rate of pets that are left untreated is much, much lower.

What can I do to remove a snake from my property?

If you see a snake do not try to catch or harm it. All Australian snakes are protected and you will expose yourself to unnecessary danger.

If you need a snake removed/relocated please phone either:
• Access Canberra Contact Centre on 132281.
• Canberra Snake Rescue & Relocation on 0405 405 304.
or visit the Access Canberra website HERE for more information.


Spring Health Topics

Spring is here and the temperature is rising here in the Nation’s Capital. With the change in weather comes some new topics for pet health, here are our top 5!

Allergies and Skin Irritation

Seasonal plants and pollen can cause allergies and skin irritations. If you notice your pet scratching at there ears or skin, licking or biting at areas of their body or if you notice any changes to their skin or coat, give us a call to have it checked out.

Grass Seeds

Grass seeds are prevalent in Spring as new vegetation is rapidly growing. The pointy end make it easy for them to become lodged under the skin in your pets legs and paws. They are also commonly found down ear canals, under eyelids and even in the nasal passage after being inhaled! It is safest to avoid any areas with long grass on your walks and it always a good idea to give your pet a check over on return from a walk. If your pet begins shaking their head, sneezing or licking at any part of their body it is best to make an appointment as soon as you can. In many cases sedation and/or general anaesthesia is required for removal so avoid feeding your pet before their appointment just in case.

Paralysis Ticks and Preventatives

Many Canberrans make the most of the warm weather with a trip to the home of paralysis ticks, the coast! Paralysis ticks are capable of killing a dog within just days of attaching if he/she did not have any tick protection prior. We now have such safe, effective, affordable, quick acting and long lasting tick prevention options available that there really is no excuse. Here are our preventative recommendations:

Nexgard Chewable Tablets (1 month protection for fleas and ticks) – Best for infrequent travelers that have a trip planned for less that 1 month duration or for puppies that are growing and may exceed the tablets weight range in a month.
Bravecto Chewable Tablets (3 months protection for fleas and ticks) – Best for people who travel quite frequently and can remember to dose again every 3 months.
Bravecto Spot On (6 months [yes 6 months!] protection for fleas and ticks) – Best for year round cover for fleas and ticks and for pets who are hard to tablet.

We sell all 3 options here at Vets at Amaroo, give us a call on on 6230 2262 if you’d like us to pop one aside for you.

Snake Bites

Though it has only just hit Spring, there have already been multiple snake sightings in the ACT and surrounding regions. We recommend keeping your dog on lead when out and about, sticking to the path/walking trail and avoiding areas with long grass. It’s helpful to be familiar with the symptoms of a snake bite so that you can act quickly in an emergency, these include:
– Vomiting
– Sudden weakness
– Collapse (can seem to ‘recover’ shortly after)
– Twitching of the muscles
– Hyper-salivation
– Dilated pupils non-responsive to light
If you notice any of the above symptoms give your vet a call straight away.

Plants – Lilies

Lilies are extremely toxic to cats, causing kidney failure and even death after ingesting even the smallest amount of any part of the plant. Cat owners should NEVER have lilies in their homes. Symptoms include:
– Vomiting
– Other symptoms relating to kidney dysfunction (lessened appetite/disinterest in food, lethargy, depression, changes in urination and thirst).
Again, if you notice any of the above symptoms, give your vet a call immediately.

Nail Trimming Tips & Tricks

Vets at Amaroo nurses Meg and Jessie making nail trimming a positive experience with lots of cuddles and treats!
  1. Start young and make it positive!
    Get your new puppy used to examinations and nail trims by gently handling their paws, ears, mouth etc every day. Ensure you make nail trims fun by using rewards (such as food and praise) to keep it positive for your pup!
  2. Enlist a helping hand
    Having a second person to distract, treat and praise your pup means that you can focus on nail trimming alone and will help to avoid any accidents.
  3. Start slow and finish on a positive note
    Always stop whilst you’re ahead, if you can sense your pup may be starting to become restless then stop where you are, even if it means that you only do 2 or 3 nails at a time. Always make sure you finish the session on a positive note so that your puppy will have fond memories for the next time the nail trimmers come out.
  4. Cut small
    Each nail has a blood supply called the ‘quick’. The quick can be visible in some white nails, however it is often invisible in darker colored nails. Clipping the nails too far back can result in cutting the quick, which is painful for your pup and results in a bleeding nail. We recommend only cutting 2mm or so off the end of each nail at a time, some dogs who haven’t had their nails trimmed in a long time can have quite a long quick so always cut small to begin with.
  5. Accidents happen, have styptic powder ready
    Whilst you will try your best not to cut the quick sometimes accidents happen! In the case that one of the nails is bleeding, dabbing a cotton bud into styptic powder and applying this to the end of the nail will form a clot to stop the bleeding. It is a good idea to have styptic powder on hand and ready whenever you are trimming your dogs nails, cornflour will also do the trick as a substitute if you are stuck.
  6. Don’t forget the dew claw
    Most dogs are born with dew claws on their front legs (and some even have them on their hind legs too!). These claws are located higher up on the inside of the leg leg, almost like a thumb nail. Often these nails need trimming the most as they don’t come into contact with the ground and therefore don’t get worn down by walking on concrete and other hard surfaces.

  7. If in doubt, give us a shout!
    If you don’t feel comfortable or confident trimming your dogs nails, give us a call. Our nurses trim nails every single day and know all the tricks in the book 🙂 Their are also many helping hands here to feed treats and distract your pup to make it a better experience for them. Give us a call on 6230 2262 to make an appointment.

Leptospirosis Outbreak in Sydney Suburbs

The infection is often contracted when the dog is exposed to infected rodent urine in ponds or wet soil in poorly drained areas.

Sadly, there have been multiple fatalities in dogs due to a reported Leptospirosis outbreak in Sydney recently. Here are some facts you need to know.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis (often referred to as Lepto for short) is a bacterial infection that travels throughout the entire body via the blood stream, causing organ dysfunction/failure and internal bleeding. It can be fatal in as little as 48 hours.

What do I need to know?

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic infection which means it can affect humans too.
There have been seven confirmed fatal cases in dogs so far, all of which have been reported in the Inner West suburbs of Sydney (Glebe, Surry Hills etc.)

How is it spread?

The bacteria favours warm, moist environments, ponds and stagnant water and areas exposed to flooding. The infection is often contracted when the dog is exposed to infected rodent urine in ponds or wet soil in poorly drained areas.

What can I do to minimize the risk to my dog?

We recommend avoiding taking your pets to these parts of Sydney where possible, however if your dog must travel there with you, there are vaccines available to cover them for Leptospirosis. Initially your dog will require two vaccines 2-4 weeks apart and then annual re-vaccination to maintain immunity. It is not safe to travel until the vaccination is in full effect – about 10 days after the second vaccination. Avoid any stagnant water or places where there has been flooding, keep your dog on lead when walking and DO NOT allow to swim in or drink dirty water.
Again, it is advisable to arrange alternative options where possible.

If you have upcoming travel plans to Sydney with your pets please phone us on 6203 2262 for more information.

Patient Spotlight – Snow the Westie Pup

Snow the 4 month old Westie puppy

Snow was an active and excitable dog, as most 4 month old puppies are! One day when his owners arrived home they found him limping in the backyard, not placing any weight on his right hind leg. Worried, Snow’s owners brought him straight to our Hall branch for a consultation with Dr Jim Riach.

After a physical examination, Dr Jim recommended sedating Snow and taking some x-rays of his right hind leg as he was concerned about the possibility of a fracture.

Unfortunately Jim’s suspicions were correct; the x-rays showed that Snow had fractured the growth plate of his shin bone.  The growth plate is the area where the bone grows from and are weaker in puppies because they are actively growing, meaning that fractures in this area are more common in young puppies.  This type of fracture is called a ‘tibial crest avulsion fracture’. 

The image on the left shows the fracture (circled in red).  The image on the right is an x-ray of Snow’s left hind leg (not affected) for comparison.

Surgical repair is usually required to stabilize this kind of fracture, otherwise the quadriceps muscles continue to pull on the bone fragment and can move it out of place. 

The next day, Snow was transported here to Vets at Amaroo where Dr Vickie Saye performed the surgery. Surgery involved placement of 2 pins and figure of 8 tension band wires to hold the fractured bone in place.  The x-ray below is Snow’s leg after the surgery, which is taken to check the placement of the hardware.

X-ray of Snow’s right hind leg after surgery showing the hardware placed during surgery.

A stability bandage was placed and Snow was taken to recovery. Intravenous pain relief and TLC from our nurses ensured that he remained comfortable throughout the afternoon.

Snow the brave boy relaxing in recovery after his surgery.
Showing off his new bandage!

After a smooth recovery from surgery, Snow was taken to Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services for overnight monitoring. On return to Vets at Amaroo the following day Dr Vickie was impressed to see how well little Snow was doing, even trying to run around on his freshly-operated-on leg! He was discharged home with his owners on strict rest (tricky, we know) and wearing his party hat (cone of shame) to ensure he wouldn’t remove his bandage on his own accord!

It is always a good idea to have any mobility concerns i.e. limps etc checked by a vet as soon as possible after you notice them, in some cases it may not be anything very serious but in other cases it can be a sign of a fracture or worse. Give us a call on 6230 2262 if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.

Hazardous Foods – The Top 10 Foods to Keep Your Pet Away From

We know how hard it can be to stay on top of which foods are good, bad, and plain dangerous to your animals.

That’s why we made a short video highlighting our top 10 foods to keep your pets away from!

If you’re ever unsure about something your pet has ingested, it is critical to call your veterinarian ASAP.  For more information, give us a call on 6230 2262.

Online Booking is Live Now!

We’re excited to introduce you to your new friend, our online booking portal!

Say goodbye to the hassle of phoning during business hours and hello to a new world of convenience. Create appointments at the touch of a button, gain access to vital information such as your pets vaccination due dates and current weight and check booking details for your upcoming appointments. We hope you love it! You can check it out by CLICKING HERE.

Anesthesia-free Dentistry and the risks to your pet

A thorough, effective and safe dental procedure without a general anaesthesia sounds too good to be true right? Well, unfortunately that’s because it is.

Unfortunately here in Australia some people are now advertising what they call ‘anaesthesia-free dentistry’. They offer to do ‘dentals’ or cleaning and scaling of pets’ teeth while the animal is fully conscious.

A recent article published by the Australian Veterinary Association outlines the many serious risks the pets’ undergoing such procedures are facing:

Here at Vets at Amaroo we offer Free Dental Check-Ups, this allows a qualified veterinarian to perform a thorough examination of your pets mouth. We will then provide you with a detailed treatment plan and home care advice tailored to your pet.

You can book your pets Free Dental Check-Up online by clicking here or by calling us on 6230 2262.

We are now OPEN!

We’re happy to say that Vets at Amaroo is now open!

If you’re in the area, pop by to say hello, but it’s best to phone ahead for an appointment by calling us on 6230 2262.

Our hours over the Christmas-New Year Period are:

Fri 28th Dec: 8:00am – 6:30pm
Sat 29th Dec: CLOSED
Mon 31st Dec: 8:00am – 4:00pm
Tues 1st Jan: CLOSED
Wed 2nd Jan: 8:00am – 6:30pm

and resuming our normal hours after then.