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Dog bitten by adder at Highcliffe beach amid warnings of anti-venom shortage

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A HORRIFIED dog owner is urging people to beware of adders emerging from hibernation after her pet was badly bitten by one of the venomous snakes at Highcliffe.

Anne Mackay and husband John were left with a vet's bill of more than £500 and a warning, she said, of a national shortage of antidote.

The incident happened as the couple walked Barney, their springer-cross, and their other dog Rosie along the beach.

Barney is recovering
Barney is recovering

As they made their way up a path opposite groyne H8 Anne heard Barney, who was on a lead, suddenly yelp in pain.

She said: “He has a habit of foraging about in bushes and grass, which he was doing at the time. He suddenly let out this noise as if he was in pain and jumped backwards.

“I bent down to see what was in the bushes and was absolutely horrified to see it was an adder.

"It really gave me a shock; it is the first time I have seen a snake in the wild.”

Anne said the snake was “just lying there”, adding: “I thought it might have got a fright and made off but it didn’t seem to care.”

She said Barney “was in shock and pain” so she and her husband took him to an emergency vet near their home in Bournemouth.

There she claimed she was told that there was a “national shortage” of anti-snake venom medicine and it is only given to dogs having trouble breathing.

Adder which bit Barney (56334503)
Adder which bit Barney (56334503)

Instead, Barney was immediately put on antibiotics and a drip, and given antihistamines and pain relief.

Anne said: “When we returned in the morning his face and neck had really swollen, he was virtually unrecognisable.”

She posted about her experience on social media to warn other dog owners about the danger of adders, saying: “Barney is very precious to us – he was a rescue from local charity Many Tears and we adore him.

“He is not himself still and we don’t know yet what damage the bite might have done. Snake bites can cause organ failure or damage to soft tissue.

“They can be so dangerous. I have heard from people whose dogs have been killed, even from the owner of a pony who died after bitten by an adder.”

The family’s vet bills have reached over £500 so far but Anne said: “I am just so grateful Barney is still alive. He is such a lovely wee little dog, so lovable."

Adders usually emerge from winter hibernation in March and April as the weather heats up, with the New Forest a stronghold for them.

Advice for anyone whose pet is bitten is to carry the dog to stop the spread of the venom and bathe the wound in cold water to control swelling.

Do not try squeezing venom out the wound but keep the dog calm and take them to the nearest available vet.

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