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Adder bites and dogs

Adder bites and dogs

When taking our four-legged friends for a walk in the glorious summer sunshine, we rarely worry about dangers lurking in our midst. With the weather warming, a certain venomous villain is becoming one of the top concerns and reasons for veterinary admission during these warmer months.

Wondering what this weird creature is? It is nothing more than the… adder. Common amongst the British Isles and taking up home in the countryside and hedgerows, this slippery serpent is a summer danger to both us and our pets. Adder bites and dogs is a frequent topic of conversation as the weather warms.

How can I spot an Adder?

Brown in colour with zig-zag markings, these distinctive snakes often slither amongst large grassland areas lurking amongst log piles and moorland areas. Although they are highly venomous, adders are not categorised as aggressive. If you notice anything rustling or moving in fields, hedgerows, or woodpiles as you partake in rambling with your dog, leave the area immediately and find an open space.

Unlike snakes we associate with the Australian outback, adders often only attack when their home and personal space is invaded. As both you and your dog ramble amongst the long grass, simply stepping upon an adder or within its radius can inflict an aggressive attack. With the weather rising as we approach the height of summer, more and more cases of adder bites are reported across the country so awareness of how to spot these snakes is important.

Where do they live?

With constant sunshine leaving grassed areas growing gorgeously, warmer seasons such as spring and summer is the best time for adders to enjoy. Slithering amongst the lavish long grass, avoiding these areas is the best way to keep you and your dog safe and bite-free. If your adventure of choice is the nearby wooded areas, avoid parts with extensively long moorland and large log and rock piles as these can be key areas for adders to rest and relax. You will never find an adder roadside or in built-up streets or towns so sticking to a walk on mowed or worn paths is a great way of avoiding adders.

Where do they live?

With constant sunshine leaving grassed areas growing gorgeously, warmer seasons such as spring and summer is the best time for adders to enjoy. Slithering amongst the lavish long grass, avoiding these areas is the best way to keep you and your dog safe and bite-free. If your adventure of choice is the nearby wooded areas, avoid parts with extensively long moorland and large log and rock piles as these can be key areas for adders to rest and relax. You will never find an adder roadside or in built-up streets or towns so sticking to a walk on mowed or worn paths is a great way of avoiding adders.

What if my dog gets bitten?

If you believe your dog has been bitten by an adder, it is vital to seek veterinary advice right away. Despite not being classed as aggressive, these snakes are venomous, and their bite will contain a nasty venom injected into your dog’s bloodstream.

These snakes will aim for the limbs and the face of your furry friend, so the signs will be prominent if a snake bite occurs. Signs of an adder bite may include:

  • Bleeding in the area

  • Swelling
  • Drooling

  • Potential lameness

If you notice any of these signs whilst walking your dog in a woodland area or in long grass, you must seek advice from a vet right away.

Can I do anything to help?

Like any medical issue with our furry friends, your dog’s veterinarian will always identify the best course of treatment in relation to any dangers with adders. If you live a distance away from an emergency medical practice, your vet might suggest giving your dog an antihistamine such as Piriton to help bring down any reaction. Usually used on the likes of hay fever, Piriton won’t remove the venom from your dog’s bloodstream but can help to reduce the symptoms brought on by the bite. No matter what – always take your dog to the vet in the incident of an adder bite.

Can I do anything to help?

Like any medical issue with our furry friends, your dog’s veterinarian will always identify the best course of treatment in relation to any dangers with adders. If you live a distance away from an emergency medical practice, your vet might suggest giving your dog an antihistamine such as Piriton to help bring down any reaction. Usually used on the likes of hay fever, Piriton won’t remove the venom from your dog’s bloodstream but can help to reduce the symptoms brought on by the bite. No matter what – always take your dog to the vet in the incident of an adder bite.

FAQ’s

 

How quickly will an adder bite affect my dog?

You might be able to spot puncture wounds immediately. Swelling will occure within two hours. Other symptoms such as bleeding, pain and lameness may occure immediately.

Can I give my dog Piriton for an adder bite?

Yes you can but call your vet first to get help with dosage, and then you must always take your dog to the vet as quickly as you can.

Can an adder bite be fatal to a dog?

With treatment, most dogs will make a full recovery from an adder bite. However, sadly, adder venom can cause severe illness and even death for some dogs. If the venom is injected straight into the blood stream it can cause death very quickly. If the bite causes swelling on the face or neck your dog could suffer breathing difficulties.

Conservation and adders

Adders are protected by law in Great Britain. It is illegal to intentionally kill or injure these native reptiles.

Although the adder is the most widespread of our native snake species, they are very rare in some parts of the UK, and recent population declines have become a real conservation concern.

To find out more about adder conservation efforts visit arc-trust.org/saving-adders. The Woodland Trust also has more information on these vulnerable creatures.

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Has your dog ever been bitten by an adder? Let us know in the comments.

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