A Basildon vet is urging pet owners to be on their guard after treating a dog badly hurt following an adder bite.
Amy Andrews, vet surgeon at Cherrydown Vets, which is based in Basildon and has practices in Wickford and Stanford Le Hope, issued the warning after treating Toby, a four-year-old Jack Russell.
Toby was out for a walk with his owner in Stanford marshes when he was bitten by an adder, resulting in significant pain and serious swelling.
He was taken to Cherrydown, where Amy treated him and administered anti-venom to calm the swelling after an initial 48-hour period.
Adders, which are the UK’s only native poisonous snake, hibernate over the winter and emerge during the spring. Due to the unseasonably cold weather in March and April, they are now starting the make an appearance slightly later than usual, putting dogs at increased risks.
Cherrydown, which offers 24-hour emergency care, is now stocking costly anti-venom but Amy is urging dog owners to be careful where they let their pets roam during the warmer weather.
She said: “This is the first adder bite case I have treated this year. Adders generally hibernate from October to April, waking up when the weather warms up and they can bask in the sun.
“Unfortunately, Toby unintentionally stumbled upon an adder while out for a walk and was bitten on one of his front legs. Luckily for him, it wasn’t on his face, which could have been much more serious.
“After administering the anti-venom, Toby’s now doing well. His swelling has gone down and his bloods and ECG were fine, so he can go back to enjoying his walks – just hopefully keeping clear of any more adders!
“Adders 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 heartbeat, 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.”
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.