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Yorkshire terrier Chloe saved by emergency vets and vet nurses at Vets Now Bournemouth
An adorable Yorkshire terrier was left unrecognisable and on the brink of death after she was bitten by an adder.
The venomous snake bite saw tiny Chloe’s head swell to twice its normal size, with huge black bruising eclipsing her face.
So bad was the swelling that Chloe’s eyes completely disappeared, and she could barely open her mouth to breathe.
These amazing images demonstrate in graphic detail the horrifying extent of Chloe’s injuries — and how, in a story of triumph over adversity, she has now recovered after emergency care from Vets Now staff in Bournemouth who administered anti-venom serum to save her life.
Chloe's adder injuries
The venomous snake bite saw Chloe’s head swell to twice its normal size
Chloe's adder injuries
The swelling caused Chloe’s face to bruise and she had her fur shaved so that the team could see the location of the bite
The swelling to Chloe’s face was so bad that her eyes completely disappeared
Chloe at home after treatment
And, in a super-cute plot twist which Walt Disney would be proud of, Chloe’s return to health is partly due to the tender loving care she got from her sister, a beautiful Red Setter called Lily.
Our pictures show a recuperating Chloe snuggled on Lily’s back — as Lily keeps a watchful eye over her miniature house-mate, who is about a tenth of her size.
Chloe and Lily’s owner Ray Peck said: “The staff at Vets Now did a brilliant job of looking after Chloe — and Lily definitely helped out afterwards!
“They’re two totally different dogs — one little, one large — but Lily could tell something was wrong and really mothered her when she came home.”
The snake drama began when Ray and wife Denise were staying at a holiday house in Studland on the Dorset coast, where adders are such a regular feature that there are signs up warning of their presence.
Chloe was playing with Lily in the garden when suddenly she came back into the house visibly distressed and beginning to swell — followed by Lily, who seemed to sense something was badly wrong.
Initially, Ray and wife Denise thought Chloe, who is four years old and weighs just three kilos, had been stung by a wasp.
But Ray said: “We soon realised it was much worse than a wasp bite as her head was getting bigger by the minute.
“We’ve stayed in the house before and we saw an adder in the garden last year so we realised very quickly what had happened. It’s pretty much adder central down there.
“The garden had just been cut back and we think the adder has maybe been dislodged while that work was going on.”
Adders — the UK’s only venomous snake — only attack if they are trodden on or disturbed by an inquisitive creature like playful Chloe.
They are most likely to bite in spring, when just out of hibernation, but as Chloe’s case demonstrates, that’s not always the case.
Ray and Denise rushed Chloe to our pet emergency clinic in Bournemouth on the recommendation of local vets in Swanage, a short drive from the holiday house.
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Our senior nurse Catherine Rose and senior vet Natasha Siviter explained to Ray and Denise that, given the severity of her symptoms, Chloe may benefit from anti-venom.
Many Vets Now clinics stock this serum as part of the lifesaving Tox Box service. It gives veterinary practices 24-hour-a-day access to the drugs needed to treat serious cases of poisoning.
Catherine said: “In a very small number of cases, anti-venom can lead to anaphylactic seizure, which we had to talk Ray and Denise through.
“After weighing up the risks against the benefits, Ray and Denise gave us their permission to go ahead while also providing supportive treatment.
“If we hadn’t given the anti-venom then there was a chance Chloe wouldn’t have made it through, partly because she is just so little and the bite was so severe.”
After three days, Chloe was well enough to go back home with Ray, Denise and Lily to Epsom, Surrey, where they live.
Ray said: “Poor Chloe didn’t look great — her face was still black from the bruise and her fur was all shaved off so the vets could check the spot where she’d actually been bitten. It looked like the worst kind of lockdown haircut!
“But it was great to have her home and we knew she was on the mend when she was back to licking Denise on the nose.
“Then she wolfed down a dinner of chicken fillets after being totally off her food and we knew everything was fine. Lily played her part too, which was a really nice end to the story.”
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Catherine added: “Chloe was a real favourite with all the staff at the clinic. She was so loveable and affectionate.
“Adder attacks are relatively rare but we do see them and, in Chloe’s case, it was very severe indeed, life-threatening in fact.
“We’re just coming to the end now of the peak period for adder bites but owners need to stay vigilant for them.
“If you think your dog may have been bitten by an adder, then do what Ray and Denise did and seek emergency help straight away – please don’t delay as every minute is crucial in these cases.”
The Vets Now clinic in Bournemouth — where Chloe received treatment — is one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals that are open seven-days-a-week to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.
All of Vets Now’s out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.
Vets Now has also recently launched an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available. While life-threatening conditions like Chloe’s would not be suitable for the service, their experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns pet owners might have. If a pet needs to be treated at Vets Now, pet owners are refunded the online consultation fee.