When an Aussie pet owner came home from work, she was warmed to see that her two Labradors were so busy in the backyard playing tug-of-war that they didn’t even acknowledge her.
But that happiness quickly turned to horror when she discovered that the ‘rope’ she thought they were playing with was in fact a tiger snake - one of Australia’s most venomous natives. Jo, from Busselton, WA, shared her horrific experience as a stark warning to pet owners.
“When I came around the back they usually hear me and are there to greet me,” she told Yahoo News Australia. “But they were having a great time playing tug of war. I thought ‘that’s a skinny rope’ and I went over to them and instantly saw it wasn’t a rope, but a tiger snake.”
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Jo frantically shouted at the dogs to drop the metre-long reptile before taking the pets inside. While the snake was dead, Jo raced the dogs to the vet, assuming that at least one of the two dogs had been bitten during their ‘game’.
She snapped a picture of the snake in the garden in case the pets required a dose of anti-venom. Remarkably, the dogs were given the all-clear.
While Baxter and Murphy had a lucky escape, Jo wants to share her experience as a warning to other pet owners. “Anything to prevent an accident happening,” she said “Luckily ours was a happy ending.”
Aussies share their relief at 'happy ending'
After posting images of the snake to Facebook, many were quick to express their relief that the dogs were unharmed in the incident. “Very lucky indeed, go buy a lotto ticket,” commented a fellow pet owner.
“This is my worst fear coming home to a snake around my labs,” shared another.
“Hopefully they don't play with anymore nope ropes,” added a third.
What should I do if my dog is bitten by a snake?
Dr Liam Donaldson from Greencross Vet Hospital previously told Yahoo News that pet owners should check their yards for hazards that may be creating hiding places for snakes.
"Keep the grass short," he said. "Cut back shrubs and bushes ... and especially check the backyard shed just in case there's any snakes that have been curled up over the winter."
He explained that it’s crucial to take your pet to your closest emergency animal hospital if you suspect a snake has bitten it and calling ahead is strongly advised to help the team prepare for your arrival.
There are common telltale signs to indicate a dog has been bitten by a snake, Dr Donaldson said.
Common snake bite signs in dogs:
Wobbly walking / inability to walk
“In dogs we commonly see vomiting and collapse before a very quick recovery. This recovery is only short-lived, before the toxin has its most fatal effect of causing breathing paralysis."
For areas with high snake populations, vets recommend pet owners take their dogs to complete a snake avoidance course, much like a behavioural training course, which trains the animal to stay away from snakes if they encounter them.
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