A veterinary group is warning dog walkers to be extra vigilant after a family pet was bitten by an adder in County Durham.
Hooch, a Dogue de Bordeaux, was attacked by the snake while walking with his owners Karen Forster and Dean Lowden at Derwent Reservoir.
But it was only when they returned to their home in Blackhill, near Consett, that they realised Hooch had been bitten after they noticed a swelling the size of a tennis ball on his face.
They took him to Value Vets in Consett, part of Westway Veterinary Group, before he was transferred to their main hospital at West Road in Newcastle, where quick-thinking staff were able to source life-saving anti-venom to inject into Hooch.
The poorly pooch spent three days in hospital, but is now recovering from his ordeal at home.
Karen said: “It was a real shock and people need to be aware that there are adders out there in the countryside.
“I’m very concerned that children and small dogs might be in danger.
“I noticed Hooch was quiet when we got home from the walk, but thought it was just because it was a warm day. At first I thought he had a tennis ball in his mouth, but when I looked closer, there was a huge swelling on his cheek and down his neck.”
The couple were accompanied on the walk by Dean’s sister Cheryl Lowden and her three-year- old son Riley, who was only a foot away from the adder on the path.
Dean said: “I noticed the snake and picked it up for a photo as I thought it was just a grass snake, but later discovered it was an adder
“I’m worried what might have happened if my nephew had been bitten.”
Westway Veterinary Group is warning pet owners to take extra care when walking their dogs during the summer when warmer weather brings snakes out into the open.
Westway Head Nurse, Kay Sanderson, said: “This case is fortunately very rare, but owners should be aware that there are snakes out there in the countryside and we do get the odd dog coming in after being bitten during the summer.
“Our advice is to always seek veterinary assistance if your dog is bitten.
“With Hooch, it was very serious because he was bitten on the face and it meant the swelling could affect the airways. If he had been bitten on a paw, he may have only needed an antihistamine injection, but we needed to get anti-venom with it being his face.
“He was in considerable discomfort and needed to be on intravenous fluids and pain relief. His temperature also dropped significantly because his body went into shock.”
Westway advises owners to seek immediate veterinary attention if their pet is bitten, and to get medical help if a human is bitten.
Westway Veterinary Group is part of VetPartners – a collaboration of veterinary practices from throughout the North of England and Scotland.