A veterinary charity is urging dog owners to be aware of snakes in woods and grassland, after saving the life of a greyhound that was bitten in Staffordshire.

Cookie before (left) and after treatment

The warning comes from the PDSA after it treated the eight-year-old dog – now recovering – which was bitten by an adder on Cannock Chase.

Owner Lynn Pallatina said she didn’t know what had happened to canine Cookie at first.

“She was sniffing around and then jumped back suddenly,” she said. “I saw the end of a snake, but I didn’t think she’d actually been bitten – I thought they tended to stay away from people and other animals. But then she just lay down on the ground, opening and closing her mouth and within three minutes her face had started to swell badly so I knew something was wrong.

“I took her straight to PDSA and they asked if it was possible Cookie had been bitten by something. It was only then it clicked it may have been the adder.”

Cookie was admitted to Wolverhampton PDSA. Head nurse Kay Brough said the dog had been bitten on the face.

“Without treatment it’s quite possible she would have died, as adder venom is poisonous and can cause organ failure,” she said. “She was immediately given pain relief and, thankfully, we were able to get hold of the anti-venom to treat her, which she quickly responded to. However, it’s vital we continue to monitor Cookie closely as the venom can cause permanent damage to organs.”

Cookie was transferred to Quinton PDSA for overnight observation and has since been allowed home with her owner. Although now in a stable condition, Cookie will need daily checks at PDSA to monitor her kidney function for any permanent damage.

Last year, staff at a PDSA hospital in Cardiff had to amputate the leg of a dog after a suspected snake bite.

Miss Brough said adder bites to dogs are quite rare, but when seen they are usually on the face and limbs.

“The venom causes severe, rapid swelling and two small puncture wounds may be visible at the centre,” she said. “The dog will also show signs of acute pain and may appear nervous or apprehensive. If not treated they can collapse and it can even be fatal.

“Any owner noticing any of these symptoms should call their vet immediately for advice. Don’t touch the wound as this can spread the venom further.

“If you do see an adder do not try to approach it or photograph it – the venom is toxic to humans too, although it isn’t usually fatal due to our larger size. Keep your distance, and put your dog on a lead immediately.”

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