14 April 2021

Adder Bites

Claire Smith, Vet

The sun is shining and spring is in the air! However we aren’t the only ones enjoying the sunshine at the moment. After a long cold winter our native cold-blooded wildlife will be out basking in the sunshine and will become active again after leaving hibernation.

Our only native snake that is venomous is the European Adder. Most adder bites occur between April and July. Adders are secretive and prefer to avoid contact with humans or other animals, however until their body temperature rises and they are can be a bit sluggish to get out of the way when potential danger approaches.

Unfortunately dogs can be prone to adder bites on the head, neck and feet. If you suspect your dog may have been bitten by an adder please ring us immediately so that we can prepare for your arrival.

Signs of an adder bite include:

  • Rapid swelling around the bite area
  • Bruising of bleeding at the bite site
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Panting
  • Excessive drooling and vomiting
  • Limping

If bitten your dog may show some or all of these symptoms and they are likely to get progressively worse and time passes. Adder bites are incredibly painful so most does will show signs of pain and discomfort. If left untreated the dog may develop tremors and convulsions and eventually collapse.

What do do if you suspect your dog has been bitten by an adder:

  • Don’t panic
  • Call us immediately
  • Try to keep clam as this will encourage your dog to stay clam to and slow the release of toxins
  • Ignore the snake, don’t risk getting bitten yourself and remember Adders are a protected species
  • Do not poke or prod the bite area
  • So not apply any kind of tourniquet to your dog
  • Calmly walk or carry your dog back to your car and proceed to the surgery.

Treatment will depend on the severity of the bite. Your dog will be admitted to the surgery for close monitoring and blood tests might be run by our in-house laboratory. In some cases anti-venom may be required.

If in doubt please call us with any questions and enjoy the sunshine!

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