As dog owners we are no doubt finding ourselves using our one daily outing for exercise to also walk our four legged friends. Perhaps you are exploring more areas of the local countryside than you would normally. Along with new walking routes comes new hidden dangers and risks. Firstly an increase risk for tick exposure in long grass and woodland areas. Secondly in the local area there is an increase risk of Seasonal Canine Illness (see blog posts from last year) typically between August – November, no specific cause has been identified but some cases have been linked to woodland areas in East Anglia.

Don’t let a refreshing dog walk turn into a trip to the vets…Be vigilant

Looking at a more seasonal threat as the temperatures get warmer Adders become more active in the Spring time. They are a the only native venoumous snake in the UK, which can be recognised by a zig-zag pattern on their back. Each year there are only about 100 adder attacks reported in the UK.

Adder sunbathing in long grass.

Most snakes will only attack if they feel threatened and unfortunately an inquisitive spaniel or jack Russell doesn’t realise this until it is too late. Often adder bites are seen on the dogs face or their limbs.

Once bitten clinical signs can appear within a couple of hours and include:
Local swelling

  • Pain
  • Lameness
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Increase in breathing rate/ heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse

Depending on how quickly the venom is absorbed and the spread through the dogs body will dictate how sick the dog becomes. Most cases will recover (96%) but others can sadly pass away (<5%).

There is an anti-venom which is available from hospitals but often it is hard to locate quick enough to be useful, comes with potential side effects and should only be used in the sickest of patients.

Treatment involves you as the owner getting the patient to your nearest branch as soon as possible. As an owner if you think your dog has been bitten by an Adder call your nearest Swayne’s branch immediately, if possible carry your dog back to the car to prevent absorption of the toxin through their circulation as they move. This is one of the rare circumstances where we advise owners not to attempt any first aid as this can do more harm than good.

We have to then stabilise the patient, supporting the circulation with fluid therapy, keep the dog comfortable and prevent secondary infections.

Whenever exploring new dog walks always remember to be careful during the spring time especially in areas of sand dunes, moorland, woodland edges and undergrowth where Adders can reside.

If you have any concerns about your dog when out walking please don’t hesitate to call us on 01284 701444 day or night!