Dog bitten by adder at Sidmouth beauty spot - warning to dog owners

  Posted: 20.05.20 at 12:59 by Joseph Bulmer

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Dog owners are being warned to be extra vigilant after a black labrador was bitten on the nose by an adder at a Sidmouth beauty spot.

The middle-aged dog was being walked on Aylesbeare Common on Saturday (16 May) when she was struck by Britain's only native poisonous snake.

Her owner immediately contacted Otter Vets where the team at the Ottery St Mary practice was able to give vital advice and prepare to provide emergency treatment.

Senior veterinary surgeon Tshidi Gardiner told Sidmouth Nub News: "A gentleman rang to say he had been walking on Aylsbeare Common where his dog had been rooting around and an adder had struck her face.

"After he heard the dog yelp, he saw the snake slithering away. They had walked the 45 minutes from his home.

"So my colleague, practice partner Gordon Oxenham, who is a very experienced vet and took the call advised him to contact his wife to collect them in the car.

The labrador was being walked on Aylsbeare Common on Saturday when she was bitten by Britain's only native poisonous snake. Image courtesy of Otter Vets.

"This was to ensure the dog was quiet and remained calm.

"When she arrived they rang us again to say they were on the way to our Mill Street practice where we saw the dog immediately.

"On presentation, there were two distinct puncture marks on the bridge of her nose and painful swelling.

"Fortunately her owner reacted quickly and, with medical intervention including anti-inflammatory and antibiotic treatment, she has recovered well.

"Anti-venom is very scarce and first aid centres around anti-inflammatory and supportive treatment.

Aylesbeare Common. Picture courtesy of James T M Towill.

"The dog is very lucky that her owner did act quickly, as adder bites can be serious."

Otter Vets is now urging dog walkers to stay alert, not just when walking their four-legged friends at Aylesbeare Common but in any of the adder's preferred habitats such as sand dunes, rocky hillsides, moorland and woodland edges.

"Please be extra vigilant when walking your dogs.

"We all want to soak up the sun, the adders are no different," added Scarlet Hayward, a veterinary nurse who helped treat the labrador.

The adder is protected by law in Britain and rarely bites unless in self-defence when disturbed.

Bites are most common on a dog’s legs or face and cause swelling and bruising - owners might spot two small puncture wounds in the centre of the swelling.

Swelling can become severe and can cause breathing difficulties, particularly if the dog has been bitten around the head and neck. If left untreated the venom can be absorbed into the body, causing a widespread inflammatory reaction leading to 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.

However, most dogs make a full recovery if treated promptly. If you suspect your dog has been bitten by an adder do not let it carry on walking to try and reduce the spread of the venom.

Immediately ring your vet to make an emergency appointment which gives them time to prepare any treatments.

Bathe the wound in cold water to help control the swelling and try to keep your dog quiet and warm on the journey to the vet practice.

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