Boss and the Snake Bite Scare

Boss Wood is a lovely friendly two and a half year old Staffie. Helen Wood and her partner Max look after Boss while their son Gary is at work. Yesterday they took him out for a walk near the fishing lake at Lee Chapel Lane in Basildon. They were walking along a path near the lake with Boss off the lead when suddenly they saw an adder curled up on the path with Boss approaching it. In a split second the snake lunged at Boss but they were initially unaware that Boss had been bitten. They both had mobile phones and took photos of the snake as it disappeared off into undergrowth.

 Snake


After a few minutes Boss became woozy and they realised he had been bitten. Max picked Boss up & ran a mile or so with him in his arms while Helen ran ahead and got the car. They rushed Boss into us at Cherrydown Vets where our vet Kim Woods saw him immediately. Boss was a bit wobbly and his foot was beginning to swell. Because they had pictures of the snake we were able to confirm it was an adder bite rather than an allergic reaction which can present with similar signs. Boss was put on a drip & given steroids to reduce the inflammation as well as an antihistamine injection to prevent an allergic reaction to the venom. He was also given antibiotics and pain relief to make him more comfortable. Despite this treatment the leg continued to swell above the elbow, so it was decided to give him anti-venom. Anti-venom itself can often make an animal very ill by inducing an adverse reaction so it is only used if an adder bite can be confirmed & the animal does not respond to the initial treatment.

Boss responded well and after staying with us overnight he was sent home on antibiotics. We will however need to see him regularly over the next few days as adder bites can cause tissue necrosis (cell death) in the immediate area surrounding the bite, which may require further antibiotics.

Because Boss was brought in to us so quickly it will reduce the chance of any long term effects from the bite. Adder bites are painful, often cause swelling but in rare instances if left untreated, can result in clotting defects, kidney failure and even death. With the start of the warmer weather dog walkers need to keep an eye out for snakes in the undergrowth or basking on paths. We usually see a few dogs each year that are bitten by snakes and we have a blog on our website for further information and advice

What to do if your dog is bitten by a snake – Click HERE

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Big Dog – Training and Socialising your Big Dog

Dogs are a lot of fun. They can be loving, energetic, mischievous, playful and can make you cry with laughter at some of the things they get up to. But equally, without the right training, socialisation & stimuli, they can be aggressive, destructive or fearful.

Training and Socialisation are two of the most important things you can do with your dog to make sure they fit into your life and that of your family.

Different breeds have different attributes and these need to be researched carefully before deciding which to get. Why do you want the dog? Who will it be around? Where will it be living and are there other pets there are all important factors when choosing your dog and training it.

Socialisation is the process by which a puppy learns how to recognise and interact with living things i.e. other dogs, people, cats etc. By learning how to interact with other animals the socialised dog develops important communication skills. If getting an older dog, it is important to know it’s background, any training it has already had and the sort of environment it is used to.

Habituation is a process by which the puppy becomes accustomed to environmental stimuli i.e. non living things e.g. cars, washing machines etc.

The most effective socialisation period is at ages 3-12 weeks. This is also known as the sensitive period. Appropriate experiences with people, dogs and the environment are essential during this 3-12 week period if your puppy is to develop into a suitable pet. Failure to receive this experience is a major cause of behavioural problems in dogs later in life.

The importance of socialisation in dogs has been shown in a number of experiments. One such experiment kept puppies in isolation and were introduced to people at staggered intervals:

-puppies introduced for the first time between 3 and 5 weeks were fine

-puppies introduced between 5 and 7 weeks showed increasing apprehension.

-puppies introduced at 9 weeks were completely fearful

-puppies kept in isolation until 14 weeks behaved like wild animals

Similar experiments have shown a similar time scale is applicable for habituation.

Training from an early age is also essential and the earlier you begin with simple commands, the quicker and easier they will pick it up. Training can be made fun and part of play where your dog can also learn basic social skills. This can progress to formal training at one of the many recognised dog training schools. Exercise and walks can also be used for training. Making sure your dog walks to heel and won’t dart off and drag you off balance are simple skills that they can easily be taught. Releasing a ball, sitting or laying down are things that can be practised in the home in a fun way that will benefit both you and your dog.

 

Big Dog – Is getting a big dog the right decision for you?

When we talk about a big dog, we are thinking of the following – GSD, Rotties, Doberman, Great Dane, Wolfhound, Mastiff types, Bull Dogs, Bull Terriers- English and Staffie, Labradors and a few others.

The first consideration when getting any dog is whether you have really thought the decision through carefully.

Dogs undoubtedly make wonderful companions but can you genuinely answer YES to all the following questions:

  1. Do you have time for a dog? Dogs (and particularly puppies) require an enormous amount of time and patience from their new owners. House-training, grooming, socialising, training, feeding, exercising etc take a long time to achieve. These are most successfully achieved if someone is with the dog most of the day at home. If you want a puppy and it is going to be on its own 8 hours a day while everybody is at work, then think again.
  2. Does everyone in the home want a dog?
  3. Can you afford a big dog? After the cost of buying the dog, there are feeding costs, veterinary costs, vaccinations, flea and worm control, bedding, toys, boarding kennels, collars and leads, training classes etc. Getting a big dog will be more costly than getting a smaller one in almost every way, are you prepared for this?
  4. Can you provide a safe and secure home for, possibly, 15 years plus? Remember, circumstances can easily change so think long and hard about this one.
  5. Have you fully researched what owning a large dog entails by speaking to other owners, visiting shows, talking to breeders/vets/dog trainers.
  6. Have you considered what breed to get? Some are better with children than others, some do not like being left alone & can suffer separation anxiety, some are more prone to certain medical conditions while others require more exercise or grooming.

A big dog comes with a big responsibility, but thankfully as with children, the enjoyment you get from a dog can make it all worthwhile. Owning a dog can be very rewarding,  help to keep you healthier and add another aspect to your social life. Training classes  and walks are a great way to meet like-minded people, swap stories, tips and ideas.