Snake bites

Common European Viper

This snake is generally shy and not aggressive unless provoked. The amount of venom in individual bites can vary significantly, and a warning bite may be without venom. However, its toxicity is particularly high for small dogs. The most commonly bitten areas are the legs and snout of dogs. Cats are generally much less sensitive to snake venom. You can find more (curiosity) about the viper here.

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Common symptoms

Rapid and significant pain, redness at the bite site, a puncture wound, and swelling, which often spreads significantly (entire limbs, head, neck, etc.). Significant swelling can cause what is known as compartment syndrome (damaging the blood and/or lymphatic circulation of the affected body part, which, without dramatic, often surgical intervention, can lead to extensive necrosis and potentially the loss of an entire limb). Other symptoms that frequently appear after an adder bite include fever, limping, and coagulation disorders. Liver or kidney failure may also occur.

Dogs often experience an allergic reaction to the venom - anaphylaxis. This typically appears immediately but can sometimes be delayed, manifesting as shock, circulatory collapse, significant swelling, diarrhea, and vomiting, often with blood. A severe anaphylactic reaction or a high dose of venom can be fatal even with rapid and intensive care.

First aid

First aid includes keeping the dog calm - ideally, carry the dog and prevent it from putting weight on the bitten paw, as this can accelerate the spread of venom. You can cool the affected area. Then head to a veterinarian, calling ahead so they can prepare for an emergency patient and advise you on further steps until you arrive.


Treatment varies greatly depending on symptoms and the duration of therapy - sometimes it’s a day, other times it can be a month. On average, expect about five days of hospitalization and intensive care. In treating shock conditions, infusion therapy and corticosteroids play a crucial role. Generally, therapy focuses on stabilizing blood circulation, coagulation (to prevent damage to other internal organs), minimizing pain and swelling (to prevent compartment syndrome), and preventing secondary infections. While an antitoxin for adder venom exists, it is designed for humans and is not readily available. It is primarily held by human hospitals, and securing it in the necessary time frame for veterinary needs is very difficult, if not impossible. Additionally, anaphylactic reactions to the antitoxin itself can occur, which is why it is not frequently used in practice.