Adder bites in dogs


The only venomous snake native to the UK is the European adder. They can be 50cm long with a black/brown zigzag pattern along their back and V shaped marking on the back of the head. They are commonly found on dry sandy heaths, sand dunes, rocky hillsides, moorland and woodland edges.

Snakes generally only bite in self-defence when stood on or disturbed. Bites are more common in the spring or summer, when snakes are more active.

Symptoms of a snake bite:

Adder bites will present as a dark-coloured, localised swelling with 2 small puncture marks in the centre. They most commonly occur on the face and legs. Your dog may appear to be nervous or in pain. They may have pale gums, bruising, dribbling, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, restlessness, drowsiness and lethargy. Eventually dogs may collapse, have blood clotting problems, tremors or convulsions.

What to do if your dog has a snake bite:

Seek veterinary attention IMMEDIATELY if your dog is bitten. Carry your dog (rather than letting him walk) to reduce the spread of the venom and bathe the wound in cold water to control the swelling. Try to keep your dog calm and warm as you transport them to the vet.

The vet will give your dog pain relief, treat the swelling and administer anti-venom if available. Most cases survive with appropriate treatment.

If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets. You can also visit our websites at or

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