How to tell if your dog has been bitten by a snake

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According to The Wildlife Trust, there are three species of snake native to the UK, the adder, grass snake and smooth snake. While these creatures do tend to keep themselves to themselves, it’s good to know what you should be looking out for if your dog comes face to face with one – especially with adders being venomous!

Where are you likely to see a snake?

Depending on where you are, you’ll be more likely to see certain species. Smooth snakes are rare so you’ll only find those in a few heathland sites, while grass snakes tend to be found in wetlands. The only venomous snake in the UK, the adder, are usually spotted in woodland, heathland and moorland.

How to tell if your dog has been bitten by a snake

If you think your pooch could have been bitten by a snake, it’s always worth getting it checked out, but this is especially important when it comes to an adder bite. Symptoms may include: 

  • Localised, painful swelling
  • Two puncture marks in the centre of the swelling
  • Possible breathing difficulties
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Drowsiness

If you notice any of these signs, seek urgent veterinary treatment.

How to reduce pain in a dog that has been bitten by a snake

It’s good to know what you should do if your dog has been bitten. As well as looking out for symptoms they need care, you should try to reduce pain by:

  • Keeping them as still as possible, carrying them if you're out on a walk -this will help prevent the spread of venom
  • Bathe the wound in cold water to reduce the swelling
  • Get them to the vets as soon as possible to be treated

How to avoid snakes while walking your dog

While it may not be possible to avoid snakes entirely, keeping up to date with wildlife news and talking with other dog walkers could help you avoid any reported adder hotspots. Be mindful that snakes come out of hibernation in the warmer months (usually around April – October).

Have peace of mind with pet insurance from Healthy Pets 

Be protected in the event something happens to your dog. Our pet insurance offers cover on vet fees for illness and injury (up to £7,500), and ongoing cover for eligible new illnesses, for pets aged over eight weeks, as well as accident-only cover for pets aged five to eight weeks. Please note, new policies will not cover pre-existing conditions. 

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