The effects of a snake bite on your horse depends on the a number of factors :
- type of snake involved
- where your horse was bitten,
- how much venom has been deposited into their system,
- how quickly the venom is circulated and,
- how soon after envenomation did you notice the symptomsIf you do witness your horse get bitten by a snake, it is imperative not to put yourself in danger whilst attempting to help your horse. Snake bites are an emergency and you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Snake venom contains a cocktail of potent neurotoxins that acts to disrupt nerve function and paralyse their prey. Horses usually get bitten on the face, muzzle or legs.
Signs of Snake Bite :
- muscle twitching
- staggering gait
- recumbency/generalised weakness
- difficulty breathing
- difficulty eating (some may present with tongue paralysis)
- colic-like symptoms
- discoloured urine
- swelling at the bite site
What to do if you suspect these signs ?
- Don’t panic!
- Do not put yourself in harm’s way where you may get bitten if the snake is still close-by. You will be no use to your horse if you get bitten too!
- Keep your horse as calm as possible
- Contact your vet immediately
The first thing that should be done is to confirm your horse has been bitten by a snake. A full clinical examination by a veterinarian should be performed to rule out other causes. Test kits are available in Australia that detects snake venom. Anti-venom is the most effective means of treating a snake bite. Some horses will show noticeable improvement after one vial whilst others may require multiple vials. Supportive treatments may also include intravenous fluid therapy, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.
There is a common misconception that horses require large amounts of antivenom due to their size, thus making treatment cost-prohibitive. However, the amount antivenom required is determined by the dose of the venom received, rather than the size of patient.