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Lulu gets a nasty bite from a slippery customer! by Nicola Bromley, BVSC, CERT SAM

Posted by Abigail on Wednesday 6th of August 2008

Recently, here at Grove Lodge Veterinary Hospital, we have had a run of dogs being bitten by adders. These snakes are often found on our local downs especially in heathland areas, woodland edges. Generally they will avoid people and animals but occasionally often young inquisitive dogs will find and surprise these snakes and unfortunately get bitten.


Adders are the only venomous snake in the UK. They are identified by a brown/black zigzag pattern on their back with a ‘V’ shaped marking on the head, at full maturity they are about 50-60 cm long.

If bitten, dogs often develop a marked swelling around the bite site which is commonly on a limb or face. They often become quiet and subdued and sometimes slightly wobbly quite quickly after the incident. The best thing to do if you think your dog has been bitten is to get immediate veterinary help as the sooner we can give supportive treatment then the better the general outcome. Most dogs will just be very swollen around the bite as seen by poor Lulu in the photo but some dogs will develop serious side effects such as blood clotting problems, low blood pressure or necrosis (tissue breakdown) around the bite site.

Please remember that the adder is a protected animal and should be left alone. If you are aware of adders in a certain area then put your dog on a lead and warn fellow dog walkers.