On Saturday the 6th of April Maisie the Cocker Spaniel was rushed to Spring Lodge as she had been for a walk and had been bitten by an Adder. She was unsteady on her feet, staggering and very depressed. She had a swollen nose with two punture marks with very bad bruising around the wounds. Our veterinary Surgeon Nicole Laws was immediately concerned that Maisie had been bitten by an Adder while hunting around in the long grass out on her walk.
Adder bites can potentially be very serious in dogs so Maisie was admitted into the hospital and given intravenous Adder Antivenom and thankfully the swelling around her head began to ease.
Using Antivenom can have its own complications as the patient can have an anyphylatic reaction to the protein contained in it. Luckily Maisie did not react to the treatment and continued to make good progress over the next 24 hours.
Adders are the only venomous snake native to Britain. While Adders are venomous they are not aggressive animals and will only use their venom as a last means of defence, usually if caught or trodden on (or found by an inquisitive dog!).
With proper treatment, the worst effects are vomiting and drowsiness, followed by severe swelling and bruising in the area of the bite.
Adders are relatively common in areas of rough, open countryside and are often associated with woodland edge habitats. There are many Adders found around the edge of Tiptree Heath where they can be seen basking in the morning sunshine. They are most commonly seen in early spring when they emerge from their hibernation dens.
If you are walking your dog around the edge of woodland or in long grass it is advisable to keep them on the lead at this time of year. If you are aware of any areas in Essex where Adders are common please let us know so we can warn other dog walkers.