VET’S VIEW: Keep an eye out for adder bites

PERSONALLY, I blame my daughter, Rachel.

Thursday, 12th June 2014, 12:00 pm

She’s come over from California where she lives, complaining about the constant sunshine and hoping for some good English rain during her visit.

Well, the weather has certainly obliged (alongside the bursts of sunshine) the last couple of weeks.

Of course, sunshine can bring its problems, and dog walkers will know to watch out for adders when out on the Downs. Adders are generally timid creatures and will attack only when provoked.

They usually start to emerge in the early spring and most bites occur between April and July, often in the afternoon when the snakes tend to be more active.

In nearly all cases, dogs will show signs of illness when bitten, usually on the muzzle or limbs. The area around the bite will be painful and swollen, sometimes markedly so. In addition, around two thirds of dogs will also show systemic signs such as lethargy, fever, drooling or vomiting and a wobbly gait.

Thankfully, less than five per cent of cases show severe, life-threatening signs and this seems to depend on the size of the animal, where they are bitten, and the amount of venom received.

If you know or suspect your dog has been bitten, it is important not to panic. Keep your pet quiet and carry it if possible, as movement helps to spread the venom. Take your dog straight to your vet, who will carry out a thorough assessment. Mild cases with only local signs may be treated as outpatients with antibiotics and pain relief, while more serious cases may need to be hospitalised for fluid therapy and monitoring.

Thankfully, the majority of our patients make a rapid recovery from adder bites. But dogs are naturally inquisitive, so do watch out when out walking.

And now Rachel’s gone, I think we’re due for some sunshine!