MAX the dog was saved from the brink of death by coastguards after being attacked by a poisonous snake on a Dorset beach.

The springer spaniel was given just 90 minutes to live when an adder bit him three times in the head.

As his face puffed up and heart rate dropped, distraught owners Tessa and Andrew Barrett called their regular vet 50 miles away.

He said Max was at the risk of suffocating as the swelling was causing his nose and throat to close up and he needed immediate treatment.

But because the couple's car was parked two miles from the beach Andrew, a 52-year-old ambulance paramedic, called the coastguards for help.

A team drove on to the beach at Chapman's Pool, near Swanage, and carried a motionless Max to their 4x4 and rushed him to a vets.

The four-year-old mutt was given an injection of adrenaline and put on a drip so that an anti-venom could flush out the poison.

Although he still has some swelling, Max is now back on his feet at his home at Sutton Scotney, near Winchester.

Tessa, 47, said: "We got him to the vets in the nick of time thanks to the coastguards. Had we left it any longer Max would be dead."

The couple drove to Worth Matravers on Friday and were walking to the beach for a picnic when Max was bitten by the adder.

Tessa, a marketing manager, said: "We didn't see the snake, we just saw Max go towards some undergrowth and the next moment he looked all surprised.

"His nose was bleeding slightly and we thought he had caught it on a bramble or something.

"He then went for a swim in the sea and when he came out his face didn't look right at all and he started shaking and was in shock.

"I then noticed the puncture wounds on his face. Andrew and I are both country people and we know what an adder bite looks like.

"After we spoke to our vet on the phone we called the coastguards who were fabulous and were there in 15 minutes.

"They decided it would be quicker to drive him to the vets with the blue lights on to beat the holiday traffic.

"We got there in the nick of time. I had tried to stay as calm as I could but when we got to the vets I did have a few tears."

Ian Bugler, of the St Alban's Head coastguard team, said it was touch and go.

He said: "I guess a beach is the last place you would expect to find an adder snake but Max came across it and it bit him on the nose."

Max was treated at the Lynwood Veterinary Surgery in Swanage.