Want to watch this video? Sign up for the course here. Or enter your email below to watch one free video.

Unlock This Video Now for FREE

This video is normally available to paying customers.
You may unlock this video for FREE. Enter your email address for instant access AND to receive ongoing updates and special discounts related to this topic.

In the UK, there's really only one snake that can cause problems with your pet: The adder. But in Europe, there are more poisonous snakes. Snakes generally will not bother your pet as though they'll always move away and not just attack. The problem comes when they are threatened or concerned. This can occur when a dog runs off of a pathway or a track and then they try and play with the snake, and the snake will be very defensive. And this is where your dog may get bitten. The adder is anything up to about 65 centimetres in length, and the male or the female has dark zigzag markings on their back and a dark-coloured V on the head. If you find one, you need to leave it alone. They eat small mammals, and they are generally not found in gardens, so it's mainly a thing you will find when you're out on a walk with the dog.

You need to ensure you're safe and you don't get bitten. If possible, look at the snake, and if you have the chance, take a picture of it so your vet can actually identify what snake it was and then treat your dog or cat accordingly. If you cannot take pictures of the snake, then try and have a good close look at it. You're not going to have a lot of time to do this, and don't waste time treating your dog, but make sure you know what has actually caused the problem, particularly if your dog has been bitten while abroad. If you find one, leave it alone. They eat small mammals, they are not generally found in gardens, so they are not really too much of a threat within your home. If you cannot take a picture, look at the patterns and the length and other distinguishing marks on the snake. This will help your vet identify what has actually happened.

The European adder bite is common in dogs but rarely fatal. If your dog has been or you think it may have been bitten, you must get them to a vet as soon as possible. Smaller dogs are at higher risk than larger dogs, and you should not try and suck out the poison or apply any tourniquets to your dog, as this can often do more damage than good. Your dog could go into shock, shake, not be able to stand. And in some cases, it can become unconscious, which could lead to a respiratory arrest or even cardiac arrest, so you need to monitor carefully and make sure you get the dog to the vet as quickly as possible and also keep them as calm as possible to avoid spreading the venom around the body. They will be in pain and stress. Don't give them any tablets unless you've been advised by your vet. Your vet can then administer an anti-venom drug and maybe other drugs like anti-inflammatories or put the dog on an intravenous drip to actually get more fluids directly into the vein.

It is worth mentioning that the adder in the UK is a protected species and you should not harm them. If you see an injured adder or your dog has hurt one, you should report this to organisations like the RSPCA. You can find more information about this on the RSPCA website. If you come across other snakes, keep your dog away from them, allow them to escape. Although other snakes cannot harm your dog, your dog can harm them if they touch them or bite them.