Dogs and Snake Bites

adder-2313144_640-300x199 Dogs and Snake Bites
A picture of an adder

We are quite lucky in the UK in that we don’t have many snakes.  The grass snake which is haled and the European adder (Vipera berus) the only poisonous snake that can be found in the UK.  Whilst we don’t see that many snakes, they do exist in the UK but both the grass snake and adder are fairly shy and small compared to Pythons etc. – although grass snakes can get as big as 2 metres, the current social distancing space in the UK.

Because snakes are shy, there is a good chance your dog won’t ever see a snake, but it is something that cannot be ruled out.  Adders are poisonous, but if you quickly act, the survival rate is very high (around 95%) but fatal if you delay action.

Snakes are both a Spring and Summer danger.

How to identify Grass Snakes

Grass snakes can stay underwater for anything up to an hour if they must, which is why they are generally found around ponds and meadows.  Grass Snakes can be identified by their greenish-grey skin in a darker colour down their backs.

Are Grass Snakes dangerous?

As previously mentioned, grass snakes are not poisonous and whilst being on the bigger side up to 2m they are not dangerous; however, be warned they can bite and puncture your dogs’ skin if they are backed into a corner which will be painful and run the risk of infection so should be checked by a vet should this happen.

Grass snakes also defend themselves by admitting a foul-smelling door to deter whatever is trying to attack i

What do Adders look like?

Adders usually grow up to around 50 – 60cm, although they can get as big as 90cm.  The body has a zig-zag pattern, and the head has a distinctive V-shaped marking.  Their natural habitat is at the edges of field and woodland along with sandy area.  You will also find Adders on top of heathers, and they love to lie sun. If the weather is bad, then they curl up inside the heather to shelter.

Adders are poisonous?

The Adder is the only poisonous or venomous snake in the UK.  As a result, they can prove to be dangerous if your dog is unlucky to be bitten.  The venom is fairly mild compared to many other snakes but requires immediate attention from your vet so that the antidote can be given.  In a few cases, bites from an Adder. It can be fatal.

Unfortunately, snake bites are not always easy to fund.  One of the reasons is that the snake will do its best to remain hidden.  As a result, you may not realise that your dog has been bitten when it makes a noise, let alone suspect a snake.  If you have been in a wooded area to check your dog over for any red, tender, sore, hot or painful spots on their body, this could warrant further investigation.

As with any issues with your dog, if in doubt, phone the vet Symptoms of a snake bite.

What should I be looking for?

  • Two small puncture marks along with bruising and possibly blood
  • Swelling – although this can take up to 2 hours.
  • Nervousness or yelping
  • Drooling
  • Possibly breathing problems depending on where the bite is
  • Vomiting
  • Lameness
  • Seizures

What you can do yourself

  • Stay Calm – A stressed dog can lead to a faster blood floor and result in the poison spreading quicker.
  • Contact the nearest vet and advise them that your dog has been bitten by an adder so they can have the antidote ready.
  • Do NOT suck the bite site.
  • Bathe the area in cold water to help control the swelling.
  • Carry your pet, if possible, to minimise the spread of venom around the body.
  • Keep your pet quiet and still on the way to the clinic.

Here at Finchley Dog Walker, we are First Aid Trained to cope with most incidents.

Another summer-related article include Grass seeds and dog

 

Disclaimer: Derek Chambers, aka Finchley Dog Walker, is not a vet, and this article is not designed to replace veterinary advice. However, I would like to thank Zoe from The Friendly Pet Nurse for her advice and input into the post.

 

 

 

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