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Snake bites Dog: stay calm and get to a vet

Snake bites Dog: stay calm and get to a vet

n the UK, there's really only one snake that can cause problems with your pet: The adder.  Snakes like a quiet life and are happy basking in the sun, so they'll generally prefer to move away from people and dogs and not just attack. The problem comes when they feel threatened or cornered. This can happen when a dog tries to play with a snake, or just give it a sniff to figure out what it is. A snake can then be very defensive. And this is where your dog may get bitten.

Adders can be up to about 65 centimetres in length, and both the male and female have dark zigzag markings on their back and a dark-coloured V on the head. If you do spot one, you need to leave it alone. Adders eat small mammals, and they are not usually found in gardens, so you're most likely to see one when you're out on a walk with the dog.  Remember though that a snake always prefers to gently glide away from noise and possible trouble.  So if you see your dog pointing at something in the bracken, or acting in a way that shows he's found something new and exciting then call him away immediately.

If your dog does get bitten try and get a look at the snake and, if you have the chance, take a picture of it so your vet can completely identify what snake it was and then treat your dog accordingly.  You're not going to have a lot of time to do this and the snake will be intent on a getaway. But if the snake is an escaped pet for example then it would help the vet to know it may not be an adder bite.

Adder bites are fairly common in dogs but rarely fatal. If your dog has been or you think it may have been bitten, you must get them to a vet as soon as possible. Smaller dogs are at higher risk than larger dogs, and you should not try and suck out the poison or apply any tourniquets to your dog, as this can often do more harm than good. Your dog could go into shock, shake, not be able to stand. And in some cases, it can become unconscious, which could lead to a respiratory arrest or even cardiac arrest, so you need to monitor carefully and make sure you get the dog to the vet as quickly as possible and also keep them as calm as possible to avoid spreading the venom around the body.  Don't give them any tablets unless you've been advised to by your vet. Your vet can then administer an anti-venom drug and maybe other drugs like anti-inflammatories or put the dog on an intravenous drip to get more fluids in.

It is worth mentioning that the adder in the UK is a protected species and you should not harm them. If you see an injured adder or your dog has hurt one, you should report this to organisations like the RSPCA. You can find more information about this on the RSPCA website. If you come across other snakes, keep your dog away from them, allow them to escape. Although other snakes cannot harm your dog, your dog can harm them if they touch them or bite them.

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