I feel I must write to warn people, it can happen to you or should I say your dogs. I was walking as I do most days in our local forestry (not worked) near the Denbeigh moors, with my dogs - 4 hounds, 1 Bouvier, 1 Spinone, my friend and her Airedale,when I noticed the Spinone looked a bit odd!  It was a very warm day and fortunately we were nearing the end of our walk. 

I stopped to examine Mia and realised there was something wrong.  Her eyes were closing and she was having difficulty breathing. Panic!

I said to my friend I think she's been bitten by an adder! My friend said No you'd see the fang marks and began to say things like wasps, poison etc.

I decided to stop speculating and get back to the van, which was about 100 yards away.  I didn't rush the dog but drove like a madwoman down some very dodgy roads to the nearest vets about 20 minutes away, trying to keep her awake as I drove.  We were nearly there when to my horror a straw wagon had dropped its load all round a mini roundabout.  I managed to sneak through the bales and policemen and get to the vets.  Phew!

Once there the vets noticed her nose was a bit swollen but weren't sure it was a snake bite so treated her with antihistamine and watched her for a few minutes.  It soon became obvious that she was in big trouble.  Her airways were being cut off by her throat and head swelling to enormous proportions, she was collapsing and so was I!!!

The vets had the anti-venom in stock so they decided to ring a snake expert and see what they had to say.  They answered it seemed to them to be a typical scenario symptoms and conditions right and apparently you don't necessarily see fang marks. The vets had already set her up on a drip so told me to go home and they would ring me later.  Agony! They phoned at 2.30pm she was a little better, the anti venom seemed to be working.  They said that it would be better if she stayed in overnight (no sleep for me!).  They rang back at 5pm to say she was continuing to recover but was becoming very distressed at being there they felt.  I admitted to them that she slept with me and was not very often away from me so we decided it would be better for her to come home at 7pm for me to look after her.

What a sorry sight but still alive, thank god.  Her head was hugely swollen and she had a fluid sack as big as a football from her chin to her chest, it took about 5 days for things to improve, 9/10 days before she was on top form.  My own vet told me later that even after the anti venom has been given victims can still die.

There has been another case this summer not far away, a Great Dane I believe.  So are adders on the increase because of climate change?  Please be careful on moorland or forestry. I am very wary now as adders have been seen around our village in the past but unless it happens to you it doesn't register a threat. Be careful. I worry every day when they are running in the fields and woods but dogs need to do just that!

Irene Barratt

I adore my Mia and don't know what I would have done if the worst had happened.