Warning to dog owners over adder bite danger

Agria Pet Insurance and The Kennel Club have joined forces to warn of the dangers to dogs from adder bites this summer.

According to claims handled by Agria Pet Insurance, April to September is the most common time for dogs to be bitten by the UK’s only venomous snake.

Bella, a two-year-old Cocker Spaniel from Devon, was recently bitten by an adder while walking on the beach. She had been playing in some long grass, and it was only after her owner brought her home that she started to realise something was wrong.

Danielle, Bella’s owner said: “Bella became lethargic and wouldn’t eat – which is unlike her – and then I noticed that she had puncture wounds on her face, so I took her straight to the vet.”

While the vets monitored her, the swelling continued to increase, so Bella was treated with antivenom. She had to stay in overnight but was allowed home the next day, and fortunately, after 5-6 days, the young Cocker Spaniel had made a full recovery.

Bella’s vet’s bill came to £1,089. Her owner, Danielle, said, “It was awful when we discovered that Bella had been bitten by a snake – we were so worried about her.”

Tom Vaughan, Head of Marketing at Agria Pet Insurance, said, “Dealing with an adder bite can be very traumatic for both dogs and their owners and, if not treated swiftly and appropriately, can prove fatal. We want to draw owners’ attention to this time being right in the middle of the period where we handle most of our claims for adder bites. Understanding the signs to look for and simply having the awareness that adder bites can and do happen could be enough to save a dog’s life.”

Snake bite facts*

  • 85% of the snake bite claims handled by Agria Pet Insurance occur between April and September
  • The average cost of a claim for an adder bite is £936.00

Nick Sutton, Science Communication Advisor at The Kennel Club commented: “Adders are the UK’s only native poisonous snakes and are found in a wide range of habitats, so it’s crucial owners are aware of their surroundings when out and about or even in the garden, and keep an eye on their dog. Adders hibernate over winter and emerge in spring; they can often be found basking in the sun, and inquisitive dogs that stumble upon them are most often bitten around the face, muzzle, and front paws.

“Signs a dog has been bitten by an adder can include a small puncture wound, swelling, bruising, increased temperature, and sickness or lameness. Dogs that are bitten should be taken to a vet as soon as possible, leaving the bite alone in the meantime, as this could cause further complications. We hope Bella’s story will help more dogs and owners avoid adders, and stay aware and alert during these warmer months.”

If you have any concerns about your dog, always contact your vet for advice.