Adders are the only poisonous snake in the UK. Most bites aren't fatal, as long as you get your dog to a vet quickly. However, it's important to be aware of adders, how to avoid them and what you should do if your dog does get bitten. Adders generally don't come into contact with humans very often, but dogs tend to be more inquisitive and like to run in the undergrowth where adders often hide. Adders will not normally bite, they are actually normally very timid and like to stay away from people. They will usually only bit if they feel threatened. Unfortunately some dogs are likely to go up to an adder to have a sniff and try and figure out what they are. If you see an adder while you are out walking your dog, call them back straight away and put them on a lead. Adders are most active between March and October, which means they sometimes make appearances during the warmer summer months. If you are walking through health land or areas known to have adders during this time then keep your dog on a lead and under close control.
Are Adders Dangerous to Dogs?
If you can't keep your dog under control and they are likely to run off, walk them elsewhere where it is safer. Or don't let them off the lead until you have improved their obedience and recall. Don't hurt, kill or injure the adder as they are a protected species. It is illegal to harm or kill an adder in the UK. Adders are generally found on sand dunes, moorland, woodland edges and sandy heaths.
What to do if your dog gets bitten by an adder:
- Try and carry them instead of making them walk, as walking around will cause the venom to spread. However, only carry them or lift them if it is safe for you to do so.
- Don't touch the wound or try to take the venom out, you could end up making it worse.
- Take your dog to the nearest vet straight away.
- Most vets can treat an adder wound and most dogs will make a full recovery. However, it does depend on the size, age and generally health of each individual dog.
- Try to keep your dog as calm as possible, do not stress them out by panicking as this could make them worse.
- If your dog has been bitten by an adder they will experience pain and swelling where the bite has occurred. You might even be able to see the puncture wounds. Your dog will appear to be in pain and might look frightened or nervous. A lot of dogs tend to get bitten on the muzzle when they are sniffing around and investigating.
What do adders look like?
Adders have distinctive dark zig-zag striped along their back Females are brown to copper in colour and males are a darker grey. Some adders can be black in colour. They can grow to around 60 centimetres in length.