A VETERINARY clinic has warned dog walkers that their pets are at risk of being bitten by adders following three incidents in the past few weeks.

After the hot and dry weather coaxed the snakes out of hibernation to sunbathe in the grass, three dogs had to be treated at Forest Veterinary Clinic, which has clinics in Fordingbridge and Ringwood.

The adder is the UK's only venomous snake and its bite can result in swelling around the wound.

This can be severe for animals and humans alike.

Head Veterinary Nurse at Forest Veterinary Clinic, Rachel Russell said: "Adders can be found in heathlands or places where they can bathe in the sun. After lockdown, everyone is walking more and going further afield, so you tend to see the snakes more often. Dog owners need to be aware that the snakes are probably there.

"If your dog receives an adder bite, you need to take them to the vet as soon as possible to receive quick treatment. You don't need to panic, just phone your vets and let them know you're coming.

"If a dog is bitten, you might notice they are in pain and you will see two puncture marks where they have been bitten. This may bleed. The pain is similar to when a dog is stung by a wasp or a bee, so owners need to look out for the two puncture marks, bleeding and localised swelling.

"People must be careful if approaching adder snakes, and dogs are usually bitten on the nose as they sniff around in bushes. Again, if they are bitten, take them to the vet as soon as possible.

"Nine times out of 10 the dogs are fine and can go home."

The three dogs that were bitten (one on the nose and another on the leg) made a full recovery and were sent home.

To identify an adder, as stated on the Dorset Wildlife Trust website, look for a greyish snake, with a dark and very distinct zig-zag pattern down its back, and a red eye.

Males tend to be more silvery-grey in colour, while females are more light or reddish-brown.

Adders' venom can put people in hospital, though they rarely attack unless they feel threatened or if they are defending their young.