A SUDDEN increase in snake bites has sparked a warning to dog owners.

Dave Cumber Vets is warning the public to be cautious when out walking their dogs after five were brought in to the surgery in recent weeks suffering from adder bites.

Kate Cumber from the veterinary surgery said that between February to October the vets usually see about two or three cases.

Kate said: "We have had five dogs bitten by adders brought to the surgery in the last couple of weeks.

"Adder bites are a medical emergency and can be fatal so you should act quickly if you think your dog may have been bitten.

"You may actually see the adder and your dog will almost certainly cry out as bites are painful.

"There is usually severe swelling around the bite area and you may see two puncture wounds.

"Bites around the face and throat are particularly dangerous because of the swelling. If the bite is severe your dog may actually collapse."

Kate added: "Early treatment is usually successful but the longer the delay the worse the prognosis. Dogs that have been bitten but not treated can go on to develop heart, kidney and liver failure over the next few days.

"Adders are the only poisonous snake in Britain and can be active between February and October especially during the warm summer months.

"They are quite common in Dorset, favouring open rough ground, heathland and the edge of woodland.

"They are easily told apart from grass snakes and slow worms by their distinctive, zig-zag markings and they can reach 70cm in length.

"Here at the surgery we generally see two or three cases a year, so seeing five cases in April is unusual.

"Four of those cases were along the Fleet and the fifth was at Hardy’s Monument so take particular care if you are walking in those areas.

"As in so many cases early action is the most important thing, so if you are worried give us a ring straight away."

If you think your dog has been bitten:

n Try and keep it as calm and still as possible

n It is better to bring transport to the dog rather than making them walk back.

n Go straight to your vet

n Do not interfere with the wound or tie any sort of tourniquet because there is a danger of tissue damage around the bite.

For more information visit davecumbervets.co.uk