24 Abbeydale Road South, Sheffield S7 2QN
Telephone: 0114 2363391

Adder bites in dogs

This is Tess who came to see Zofia as an emergency one weekend in April. She had been out for a nice walk on the moors with her owner but upon getting home her owner had noticed her muzzle was swollen and was suspicious of an Adder bite.

Dogs are most likely to get bitten by Adders in April as they emerge from hibernation. Bites are also most commonly sustained in the early afternoon as Adders are most active after the midday heat. The most common areas to see Adders near us are on the paths running from Owler Bar to White Edge, including the Froggatt and Curbar areas.

Clinical signs following a bite can develop very quickly and include small puncture wounds, swelling, bruising, pain, lameness, salivation, vomiting, increased temperature and bleeding. It can also cause changes to the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. 



On examination Tess’s muzzle was very swollen indeed and there were obvious bite marks present. Her heart rate was fast, due to a combination of pain and shock, she was drooling and also had an elevated temperature. She was admitted to the hospital and given intravenous fluids, pain relief and antibiotics to prevent any infection in the wound developing. We also ran some blood tests as Adder venom can damage organs and cause issues with the blood’s ability to clot. We managed to source some anti-venom for Tess; which her owners collected and brought to the practice. This was administered very slowly intravenously in order to reverse the effects of the venom and give Tess the best outcome possible.

Tess was able to go home the next day as her condition was stable but her neck and muzzle were still very swollen and this took a few days to settle. Tess was re-seen for her post-hospitalisation checks by our vet Helen. Within a week the swelling had resolved and Tess was back to her normal, happy self.
Please be vigilant when out walking your dogs this summer. Tess’s outcome was good due to her owners bringing her down straight away for emergency treatment, however Adder bites are very serious and dogs do die as a result of them.
If you suspect your dog has been bitten, please contact us straight away. We provide 24 hour veterinary care, every day of the year. Leave the bite alone and do not attempt to suck out the venom or apply a tourniquet.

Posted 30th April 2017