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Stay Safe in the Grass

Stay Safe in the Grass

As the weather warms and Spring sprouts into full bloom, many of us may notice that the grass in outdoor areas is gradually growing posing a slithery threat to our four-legged friends. With acres of woodland and grassy areas surrounding our Cornish coast, wondrous walks with our canine companions can end in a bad way if we aren’t cautious of where we put their paws. 

Common around our British countryside, snakes can be a troublesome threat to our furry friends in the Spring and Summer. Wriggling amongst large reeds and longer grass, as more of us venture out into the great outdoors, the threat of nasty bites is present. However, there are precautions you and your dog can take when out and about making your Spring adventures safer than ever. 

Dog in long grass


The British adder is the only venomous snake on our British Isles. Unfortunately, this breed of snake is quite common in certain parts of Cornwall specifically in moorlands and coastal areas of the county. 

Despite their abundance in Cornwall, it is very rare to spot a British Adder lurking around as they are extremely shy and nervous reptiles therefore bites are uncommon but not impossible. They are a relatively stocky snake, grey and light brown in colour with a very distinctive zig-zag pattern down their backs and red eyes. They hunt smaller mammals such as field mice and can even pounce on small birdlife such as skylarks and meadow pits. 

Contrary to popular belief, British Adders are not aggressive snakes but merely attack due to defense. They tend to bite when feeling threatened or trod upon by humans and animals during walks in nearby fields and woodland areas. An adder does not sit and wait to attack like other dangerous snakes but bites as a form of self-defence to immobilise their predators from further attacks. 

British Adder

An Adder Bite

Despite being venomous, the adder bite is not life-threatening to humans. Although painful, their venom will not cause significant damage to a human if bitten. However, we would recommend medical attention if you are bitten by an adder if out and about as the bite can cause swelling, inflammation and significant soreness and antibiotics may be required. 

In terms of our furry friends, the effects can be fatal if not dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner. Being reactive biters, adders will often attack limbs and the face of your canine companions, so the signs will be prominent if a snake bite occurs. With the signs and symptoms obvious within the first two hours, your dog may suffer swelling, fever, drooling and even some lameness if a bite has occurred. 

It is essential, if you believe your dog has been bitten by a snake, to contact your local veterinarian immediately as prolonged exposure to venom can lead to heart and respiratory issues later on. As many of our Cornish vets understand the severity of snake threats here in Cornwall, your dog will be given the anti-venom to help combat the effects on the blood stream straight away leaving your dog feeling better after a few hours. 

Dog being checked by vet


Recommended by veterinary experts, it is advised that if you believe your dog has been bitten by a snake to help slow down the effects in the bloodstream by giving your four-legged friend antihistamines such as Piraton after the bite has occurred. Please be mindful, this is not a cure and medical attention is still essential (but this may help ease the pain and impact of the bite right after the attack has occurred). 

From March onwards, it is highly recommended to be wary with your four-legged friend when out in areas with long grass and areas of shrubs and flora. Be wary about letting dogs off lead to wander in these areas as you will be more perceptive than an adventurous pooch who just wants to play. 

In addition to being wary of deep grassy areas, sticking to used paths and walking routes can help avoid snake bites as adders tend to lurk in the shadows away from humans and other animals. Taking caution on where both yourself and your furry friends are treading is fundamental to prevent accidentally causing an adder to attack keeping both yourself, your pooch and the snake safe in the process. 

As mentioned before, adder bites are rare and can easily be dealt with so there's no need to worry when out and about but like everything when taking care of your canine companions - prevention is always better than cure.

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