Snakes and adders not a game for dogs, warn Basildon vets

A senior vet is urging dog owners across Essex to be on their guard after recent reports of pets being attacked by poisonous snakes.

Kevin Wood, clinical director at Cherrydown Vets, which is based in Basildon and has practices in Wickford and Stanford Le Hope, has issued the warning after a number of reported adder attacks on dogs across the country.

Adders, which are the UK’s only native poisonous snake, hibernate over the winter and emerge during the spring. After recent warmer weather, the snakes are now beginning to make an appearance in green spaces and beauty spots.

As a result, Kevin is encouraging dog owners to be aware of the potential dangers and what they should do if their pet has been bitten.

He said: “We have started to see reports of adder bites on dogs in other areas over the past couple of weeks. Adders generally hibernate from October to late-April, waking up when the weather warms up and they can bask in the sun.

“They only tend to bite in self-defence, for instance when they are stepped on accidentally or disturbed by an inquisitive dog but when they do, bites can be dangerous as they can induce lameness, vomiting and changes to the heart beat, blood pressure and breathing rate.

“Visually, bites typically result in swelling which is dark in colour and which can quickly become severe. If your dog has been bitten by an adder you should seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. We will treat the dog for shock and swelling, as well as administering anti-venom where appropriate.”

Statistics show most adder bite cases survive, with one study suggesting less than one in 20 treated dogs died as a result of a bite.

Advice on adders:

  1. Your dog is most at risk of being bitten by an adder as the weather warms up and the snakes emerge from hibernation
  2. Dogs are most frequently bitten in the early afternoon when adders are most active after the midday heat
  3.  If you see an adder in your garden, or when out for a walk, it is advisable to leave it alone. The adder is a protected species and it is illegal to harm or kill them
  4. If your dog is bitten by an adder, seek veterinary attention as soon as possible – using a tourniquet may cause infection or restrict circulation, causing further complications
basildon vets adder
Adders can pose dangers to dogs as the weather warms up