Vets point to warmer weather for increase in attacks on pets

Pet owners are being warned to be on their guard for venomous snakes after a dog was bitten by an adder at the beach.

The attack on four-year-old springer spaniel Wilson came when he disturbed the reptile on sand dunes in Sizewell, Suffolk.

Vets have reported an increase in adder attacks in recent weeks, saying warmer weather has tempted them out of hibernation.

There have also been sightings in the Highlands, Cumbria, Devon and Sussex, with one dog reportedly dying after being bitten on Birkrigg Common in the Lake District.

Adders are at their most dangerous in early spring as they’re often too lethargic to scuttle away if they’re disturbed.

After suspecting his dog had been bitten by an adder, Wilson’s owner, Sam Phillips, of Saxmundham, rushed the poorly pooch to his local veterinary practice who transferred him to Vets Now in Ipswich.

Sam said: “We were out walking on the first sunny day of spring and Wilson had been running around on the grassy sand dunes.

“He came back looking very docile and subdued. At first I thought he was just dehydrated but I took him to our local vet to be safe.

“They said he’d been bitten by an adder so he was given anti-venom and put on a drip and then transferred to Vets Now.

“The care he received was fantastic and we’re really pleased he’s on the mend.”

Adders, which have a distinctive zig-zag along their back and v-shape on their head, are Britain’s only native venomous snakes.

Although numbers are said to be in decline, there is an estimated 100,000 across Europe.

A study by the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) found that most adder bites occur between April and July.

It also revealed that nine in 10 dogs develop signs within 12 hours. These typically include swelling, lethargy, high temperature and heart problems.

Survival rates are high, however, with fewer than one in 20 adder bite victims dying.

While adders can be found throughout Britain, they are most prevalent in the south of England.

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Image of Wilson who was bitten by an adder

Veterinary surgeon Dave Leicester, who is head of clinical intelligence at Vets Now, said: “You should seek urgent veterinary advice if you suspect your dog has been bitten by an adder.

“If you are able, bathe the wound in cold water to help control the swelling but do not delay getting veterinary attention, especially with bites to the head and neck.

“If you can, carry your dog to the car or vet to try to minimise the spread of venom around her body, but if that’s not possible then walk her calmly and quietly.

“The sooner your dog receives treatment, the better her chances are of making a full recovery.

“In the case of Wilson, the owner did the right thing by rushing him straight to the vet.”

The Vets Now clinic in Ipswich – where Wilson received treatment – is one of 60 Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals across the UK that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

All of Vets Now’s premises have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.