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Adder Warning!

30 April 2010

The pleasant spring weather we enjoyed recently was a delight to all dog owners. We are all keen to get out there and enjoy our dogs in the fresh air and sunshine (and not have to get the hose and towels out afterwards!). However, a word of warning to take care while you are out - adders may also be enjoying a bask in the sun. Adders are Britain’s only venomous reptile, although luckily, due to their shy nature, dog bites and indeed human bites are rare.

Adders can be identified by the zigzag marking on their back and the ‘V’ marking on the head. The more common grass snake is a sludgy brown and is not venomous. Adders are found in all counties in the UK but most commonly on chalk downs, heaths, edges of woodlands and grassy verges. Last year one of our vets spotted a couple of adders by an old railway line near Coventry.

Most dogs are naturally wary of snakes, but they may be bitten if they run into one or are over inquisitive. Bites are therefore usually seen on the nose or paws. If a bite has occurred the area will become swollen and will be very painful. The dog may be restless or depressed. Vomiting can occur, and shock and collapse may develop.

If you think your dog has been bitten please seek veterinary attention immediately, as adder bites can be fatal.