Adder Bites

Is my dog at risk?

Does your dog go for walks in long grassed areas and enjoy adventuring through the fields? Adders are prevalent in these areas as they like to hide in long, grassy woodland.

Due to being so close to Cannock Chase, adder bites can be a risk to our patients. As one of our patients discovered yesterday, adders aren’t fun to play with. This is a second case that we had in the recent weeks.

Adders can bite anywhere on the body, but the most common place is usually the legs or face due to a snake being stepped on or if your dog becomes a little too curious! 

There is usually bruising with two little wounds (which may be hard to notice at first).

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of adder bites include swelling, yelping, limping, restlessness, pale gums, and bruising may be apparent around the wound with 2 puncture marks being visible (not in all cases) – though severity depends on the individual as well as on patient size, it is always best to get your dog checked by a vet if you suspect an adder bite for effective treatment. 

Adders are usually most active during spring when waking up from hibernation, and in summer when they may be more visible and sunbathing on paths and in public areas. However, if your dog disturbs them at any time of year, the snakes may bite out of fear as they are usually not an aggressive species.

The picture below indicates what an adder bite may look like – Archie went for a walk on Cannock Chase yesterday afternoon and unfortunately encountered an adder while the was exploring the undergrowth. His owners acted quickly and brought him straight to us for emergency treatment. 

Adders usually shy away from noise and ‘stomping’ intruders but a fast dog, running around, may easily surprise them.

How are they treated?

Adder bites can cause shock in dogs, therefore during treatment they are given intravenous fluid therapy to maintain hydration and blood pressure and will also be administered anti-venom, pain relief and antibiotics. Strict monitoring for 12-24 hours following the bite is essential to ensure a smooth recovery.

What can you do?

If you suspect your dog has been bitten, you should carry your dog to a safe place to avoid swelling and prevent the venom spreading around the body, the wounds should be bathed in cool water, and your dog should be kept warm. Veterinary help should be found as soon as possible. 

How to avoid adder bites?

The best way to prevent your dog being bitten is to keep away from areas snakes like to hide by keeping to paths when walking and keeping them on a lead to avoid accidental disturbances. If a snake is on the path, it is best to be left alone until it has moved or go around, if possible, never try to move it or get too close.