A mystery illness that left a dog fighting for its life in Northamptonshire was caused a bite from Britain’s only venomous snake.
Staffordshire pit bull terrier Khan was bitten by an adder in Abingdon Road playing fields in Corby last Thursday.
At first, his owners didn’t know why he had suddenly fallen ill.
But an eagle-eyed emergency vet spotted a puncture hole in his leg and diagnosed a potentially-lethal snake bite.
Unfortunately it was too late for anti-venom treatment and Khan was sent home to try to fight off the infection himself.
Owner Zoe Widdowson, 27, had sent Khan for a break with her brother, who also lives in Corby, while she looked after her small baby.
He took Khan, who is aged four and has lived with Zoe for more than two years, for a run in Abingdon Road park last Thursday (March 10). They did not notice anything unusual on their walk and when Khan returned home, he was initially fine.
Zoe said: “They found a lump behind his leg and contacted me on Friday night to let me know.
“We rushed down there and it was the size of a lemon.”
She contacted a vet who told her to come in the following day if the symptoms were still as acute, but by the morning the swelling had gone down.
But then the following day Khan took a turn for the worse.
Zoe said: “He didn’t want to move. He wouldn’t even lie down so we rushed him to the vet who diagnosed him with lungworm and gave him antibiotics.”
But after taking him to the vet, Zoe noticed Khan was bleeding from his chest and he deteriorated further. They took him to another vet who finally realised that he had been bitten by an adder.
“It was too late for the anti-venom,” said Zoe.
“His skin is all peeling off and he’s on very strong painkillers.
“He’s on cage rest and is now eating small amounts but it’s still touch and go. We just have to wait to see if he fights it off.”
Now Zoe, who has been given a £600 vet bill, wants to warn other people to be on the lookout for snakes when walking their animals.
She said: “I didn’t even know we had snakes in this country. We won’t be letting him off the lead again.” said Zoe.
Adders: What to look out for
The adder is Britain’s only venomous snake but they are not aggressive animals and will only use their venom as a last means of defence, usually if caught or trodden on.
No one has died from an adder bite in Britain for over 20 years. With proper treatment, the worst effects are nausea and drowsiness, followed by severe swelling and bruising in the area of the bite.
If you see an adder you should leave them alone and walk in the opposite direction.
They hibernate from October to April and they are much more venomous when they emerge from hibernation - about this time of year.
They have a grey/brown body with a very distinctive black zigzag pattern on their back.