Vets and pet charities have released warnings to dog owners after snakes have been spotted on pavements and in parks

The UK heatwave has brought out snakes and adders of all sizes (even ones not native to the UK!). A boa constrictor was spotted on a busy East London street while another man found one climbing into his bathroom in Exeter. But alongside these lost pets are the UK’s only venomous snake; the European adder.

Roughly 50 to 60cm long, adders can be distinguished by a black/brown zigzag pattern along their backs and a V marking on the back of their head. Adders are more commonly found in the south and south west of England, Wales and Scotland, living in sand dunes, rocky hillsides, moorlands, and woodland.

Adder bites are rare but with the hotter weather this year, there have been several cases of dogs being bitten reported by the media. 96-97% of bitten dogs (vets4pets) make a full recovery with appropriate treating so if you think your pet has been bitten don’t panic; seek veterinary attention straight away and keep your dog still.

 What does an adder bite look like?

If your dog is bitten you may see two puncture wounds at the centre of a swelling. Your dog may also show signs of pain, bleeding, bruising, and lameness. They may also appear to be nervous. Bites are most commonly found on the dog’s legs or face.

Adder venom, if absorbed into the rest of the body, can cause an inflammatory reaction leading to lethargy, fever, increased heart rate, vomiting, drooling and may appear wobbly on their feet. The severity and speed of recovery depends on how quickly they get veterinary treatment and the location of the bite.

What should you do:

The important thing to do is seek veterinary treatment immediately. Remember not to panic and keep your dog calm and still; your dog is likely to fully recover if treated quickly.

To help control the swelling you can bathe the wound in cool water. You will also need to keep your pet still. If you can, carry them as this will help reduce the spread of venom around their body.

As with any emergency, it is a good idea to call your vet in advance.