Dog owners warned about dangers of adder bites
Joanna Kent, Daisy Stephens, BBC News

Dog owners warned about dangers of adder bites

Dog owners are being warned about the dangers of adder bites for their pets.

While rare, the bites can be "very serious" for some dogs and can cause anaphylaxis, according to Katie Wood, a veterinary surgeon at Seadown Vets in Hampshire.

Gordon Jamison, whose dog Ru was bitten twice within a year in Setley, New Forest, said he was "worried" and has changed his walking habits to try and stop it happening again.

Ms Wood said owners who suspect their pet has been bitten should take them to the vet as soon as possible.

The first time Ru was bitten, Mr Jamison said he "didn't even notice".

"I saw him jump back and I called him over, checked him over, couldn't see anything wrong with him at all," he said.

"It wasn't until we got back home half an hour later that I... saw the size of his muzzle and I just told my wife 'that's it, I'm off to the vets'."

The second time Ru was bitten it was on his paw.

Ms Wood, who treated Ru, said the limb swelled to twice its normal size.

"It was very evident, as soon as he came in, how lethargic and unwell he was," she said.

Advice for dog owners

  • Look out for the key symptoms - acute swelling of the bite site; lethargy, including the dog hanging its head low; and pain, including not letting you touch the area

  • If you think your dog has been bitten while out on a walk, end the walk straight away or, if you can, carry them the rest of the way

  • The most important thing is to get the dog to a vet straight away

  • Cold hosing of the area can help, to wash away any venom on the surface

  • Dogs can have Piriton, but you must speak to a vet over the phone before administering it

  • You can also buy adder packs containing saline and other supplies, so you are prepared if your dog does get bitten

The reaction to an adder bite varies from dog to dog and is "really difficult to predict", which is why quick medical attention is so important, Ms Wood said.

Ru made a full recovery, but Mr Jamison said he was still wary of him being bitten again.

"I don't go down narrow paths anymore," he said.

"I won't keep him on the lead because it's not fair to him but I tell him not to go into places or call him away if he sticks his head down into a bush... I haven't unwrapped him from the cotton wool yet."

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