Dogs and Snake Bites

adder-2313144_640-300x199 Dogs and Snake BitesWe are quite lucky in the UK in that we don’t have many snakes.  The grass snake which is hales 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

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 they 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 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 a lot of other snakes but does require immediate attention from your vet so that the antidote can be given.  In a few cases bites from an Adder. 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 upto 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 faster blood floor and result in the poioson streading 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 the 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


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 advice  and input into the post


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