The European adder is the only venomous snake native to the UK.
More about adder bites
Adder bites are fairly rare. Snakes generally only bite in self-defence, so normally bites occur when a snake is stepped on or disturbed by your dog. Puppies and young dogs can be especially curious and can unintentionally provoke an adder into biting. The majority of bites in dogs seem to occur between April and July, most commonly in the afternoon when the adders are most active.
Adder bites can result in swelling around the wound, usually within 2 hours, and this can be severe. You might be able to see the 2 puncture wounds in the centre of the swelling.
Other than swelling your dog may show signs of pain, bleeding, bruising, lameness and may appear nervous.
If the adder venom is absorbed into the rest of the body it can cause a widespread inflammatory reaction leading to symptoms such as lethargy, fever, increased heart and respiratory rates, drooling, vomiting and a wobbly gait.
In severe cases animals may collapse, have blood clotting problems, organ failure, tremors or convulsions.
Bites most commonly occur on a dog’s legs or face. If your dog is bitten on the face, it could lead to swelling of the face and muzzle and may result in breathing difficulties.
The severity of the clinical signs and the speed of recovery can vary and depends on:
- the speed of veterinary treatment
- the location of the bite
- the size of the patient (small patients can be more severely affected)
- the amount and potency of the venom
- the amount the patient moves after it's been bitten
- any pre-existing disease within the patient (this may make them more likely to develop severe clinical signs)