Snake bites are not a common occurrence, if you encounter a snake you should pop your dog on a lead and calmly walk in the other direction. Snakes only really bite if they are provoked or in self defense, but if your curious pup is sniffing around off the beaten track and in the bushes, it may inadvertently disturb a snake that is sunning itself.
How to treat your dog for snake bite:
- Limit the dogs movements as much as possible to avoid the venom being absorbed or spread around the your dog's system.
- The majority of snake bites will occur on a dogs legs or face - be aware that a bite to the face my lead to swelling causing difficulty with breathing.
- If the dog is small enough, pick them up and carry them. If they are larger breeds make a sling for the affected limb using the bandage from your first aid kit or perhaps a scarf, sock or jumper. This will stop the dog using the affected limb.
- Keep the dog as quiet as possible.
- Take your dog straight to the nearest veterinary surgery. Call the surgery to advise you are on your way. They can prepare the correct treatment / anti-venom.
Also be aware that your dog may go into anaphylactic shock following a bite from a snake.
Signs of anaphylactic shock:
- Red blotches on the skin
- Sudden breathing problems
- Swelling of the throat, mouth and eyes
- Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
In the case of a collapse, check your dog's ABC and be prepared for CPR. Take them to the vets immediately.
Read our blog - What to do if your dog goes into anaphylactic shock
Where are snakes found in the UK?
The only venomous snake native to the UK is the European adder (Vipera berus). Adult adders are roughly 50-60cm long and have a black/brown zigzag pattern along their back and V or X shaped marking on the back of the head. They are most commonly found in the south and south west of England, western Wales and Scotland where their preferred habitats are sand dunes, rocky hillsides, moorland and woodland edges. Adders are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act. The majority of bites in dogs will occur between April and July, most commonly in the afternoon when the adders are most active.
Legend has it that, back in the fifth century A.D., St. Patrick exterminated Ireland’s snakes by driving them into the sea. He would appear to have done a thorough job, because Ireland is free of native snakes to this day.
The Paws at Polly's dog first aid kit contains an instruction booklet that provides helpful advice on how to treat your dog in an emergency situation.