Adder Bites in Dogs 

The Adder (Vipera Berus) is the only Poisonous snake native to the U.K. It can grow to 50-60 cms in length and can be distinguished by the very obvious zig-zag pattern on its back and a distinct V on its head.

No human has died from its bite in the U.K. for many years and very few dogs. The adder is naturally timid and will normally just scoot away and hide if it hears you coming but it will bite if threatened or surprised.

It is normally to be found from Feb to October and is most common in June, July and August. Unfortunately its preferred habitat is sandy heathland, moorland and woodland edges which are exactly the places we often walk our dogs. They, being the naturally boisterous and inquisitive animals that they are, are quite likely to annoy an adder, either by accidentally treading on it or by wanting to play with it!

Should your dog be unfortunate enough to be bitten you should consider it an emergency and get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.


If you happen to be watching when the bite occurs you may notice your dog jump and yelp, probably more in surprise at the unfriendliness of the critter than in any real pain. The areas in which they are most likely to be bitten are on its feet, legs or face. If the bite is in its face this can be more serious as the swelling may cause breathing problems. Swelling and redness will occur fairly quickly and close inspection may reveal one or two small puncture wounds. Your dog may become lame and be unusually quiet and listless and possibly may vomit.

Don't bother with tourniquets or trying to suck out the venom, this won't work and could cause delays and lead to further problems. Either carry or slowly walk your dog, on lead, to your car and get him to the nearest vet as soon as possible, preferably calling ahead to tell them you are on your way. Some people carry Puritan but it is unlikely to make much difference and should not be used instead of the visit to the vet.

Most vets these days don't have anti venom, but will treat with antihistamines, antibiotics and steroids, amongst other treatments, and in most cases your dog will make a full recovery.