What should I do if my dog is bitten by an adder?
PUBLISHED: 15:41 30 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:50 30 April 2018
Vet, Dave Cumber explains how to spot and deal with two seasonal issues that worry dog owners and have been making the news
We have just seen our first adder bite case of the year at Dave Cumber Vets, and we will see more as the weather warms up. Last year we treated five dogs that had been bitten by adders whilst walking in the Weymouth area, and we always pull out all the stops when dealing with this specific injury.
Adder bites are a medical emergency and can be fatal so dog owners need to act quickly if they think their dog has been bitten. There is usually severe swelling around the bite area and owners may see two puncture wounds. Bites around the face and throat are particularly dangerous because of the swelling.
If your dog is bitten:
Try and keep the dog as calm and still as possible
Do not interfere with the wound or tie any sort of tourniquet because there is a danger of tissue damage around the bite
Bring transport to the dog rather than making them walk back and go straight to your vet
Treatment may include: anti-venom; anti-inflammatory drugs; antibiotics; painkillers and fluids
Early treatment is essential as dogs that have been bitten and not treated can go on to develop heart, kidney and liver failure over the next few days. Adders are the only poisonous snake in Britain and can be active between February and October especially during the warm summer months. They are quite common in Dorset, favouring open rough ground, heathland and the edge of woodland.
Last year there were 40 cases of Alabama Rot in the UK. It seems to be associated with muddy woods and fields. We recommend that owners wash mud off their dogs when they return home after a walk and check for any small wounds especially on lower limbs and muzzle. The cause of Alabama Rot is unknown, and it affects all breeds. If it’s not spotted early it could lead to potentially fatal kidney failure, with 80% of cases leading to death within a week as the diagnosis often comes too late. Consult your local vet if you have any concerns.
The Dangers of Scavenging
Finally, there is always the danger of dogs picking up something potentially toxic whilst out walking on our local beaches or in the Dorset countryside. Recently we have had a few cases of poisoning where dogs have come into the surgery in a very poorly state due to eating something they should not have done whilst on a walk. Get your dog checked by a vet if you notice any unusual behaviour such as vomiting, seizures or drowsiness.