By Rochelle Hughes
A doting pet owner has described her horror after she went for an ice cream while unaware her beloved dog had suffered a near fatal ADDER bite.
Mum-of-three Chrissie Curtis had returned from a walk with three-year-old spaniel Luna in Buxton’s Gadley Woods last month when her pooch began to cry in pain.
The retired nurse, from Buxton, Derbs, knew something was wrong when soon after Luna became unable to put weight on her back legs, but assumed it was just a pulled muscle.
So the 58-year-old was devastated to discover her pet had actually been bitten by the UK’s only venomous snake and needed immediate emergency treatment to prevent the deadly venom from overcoming her system.
Chrissie said: “Luna is used to long walks and she is a tough dog, so to hear her crying in pain was a real shock.
“I knew immediately something was wrong, but I thought she had just pulled a muscle.
“I tried to examine her, but I couldn’t see anything apart from that her leg had started to swell so I drove her to the vets 20 minutes away.
“They asked my permission to sedate her and I thought she would be ready in about an hour, so I went for an ice cream.
“I had no idea she had been bitten by a snake.”
After initial checks, vets discovered Luna had been bitten by the poisonous snake twice, with two sets of teeth marks discovered on her hind right leg.
The vets told Chrissie the bite could have been fatal if Luna had been left untreated for much longer.
The mum was horrified she could unwittingly even have made the situation worse by allowing Luna to continue walking, inadvertently spreading the poison around her body.
Chrissie said: “When I realised it was an adder bite I was devastated, I thought I was going to have to say goodbye to her.
“It was horrendous.
“The vets said adder bites are rare, I’d seen my friend’s dog suffer a snake bite and not make it, so I was immediately thinking the worse.
“It was lucky I took her to the vets so promptly because she was put on fluids and antibiotics and given antivenom to counteract the bite.”
Luna is now recovering at home after a short two-day stay at the vets but there is still a small chance the working dog may need a skin graft.
Chrissie, has since been advised that if you suspect a dog has been bitten, not to let the dog walk as this can spread the deadly venom through their system.
She said she is now avoiding walking in the woods near her home and any walks around water.
The mum, who also has a 13-year-old cat, said: “Luna still has a lump on her leg, the size of an egg.
“Luckily, vets have told me there is a 90 per cent chance she won’t need a skin graft.
“I am so relieved that she is still here. It’s so great to have her home.
“I’d never thought about adders while walking Luna before but now I am more cautious about where she goes. It puts you off and makes you think.
“People have told me now that walking spreads the venom around the body so just to carry the dog rather than let them walk.”
“Luna is a working dog, so she often goes pheasant beating in the bushes but I’m keeping a close eye on her now.
“I haven’t gone back there since, we’re lucky that there are a lot of walks near where I live.”
FACT BOX: DOG ADDER BITES
• The only venomous snake native to the UK is the adder.
• Adults are roughly 50-60cm long and have a black/brown zigzag pattern along their back and V or X shaped marking on the back of the head.
• They are most commonly found in the south and south west of England, western Wales and Scotland where their preferred habitats are sand dunes, rocky hillsides, moorland and woodland edges.
• Adders are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, this means it’s an offence to kill, harm, injure, sell or trade them.
• Adder bites are fairly rare. Snakes generally only bite in self-defence, so normally bites occur when a snake is stepped on or disturbed by your dog.
• The majority of bites in dogs seem to occur between April and July, most commonly in the afternoon when the adders are most active.