Dog 'unrecognisable' after being bitten by an adder in Dorset

Chloe's face completely swelled up

Dog owners are being urged to act quickly if they think their pet has been bitten by an adder, after a Yorkshire terrier almost died in Dorset.

Four-year-old Chloe needed emergency anti-venom after being bitten on the face during a visit to Studland.

Her owners, Ray and Denise, initially thought she'd been stung by a wasp, but within minutes Chloe's head swelled to twice its normal size, with huge black bruising covering her face.

Chloe as she normally looks and after being bitten

So bad was the swelling that Chloe’s eyes completely disappeared, and she could barely open her mouth to breathe. 

Chloe being treated in the clinic

She was rushed to vets in Bournemouth, and due to the severity of the symptoms given anti-venom.

In a small number of cases, it can lead to anaphylactic shock, but Chloe was unlikely to survive without it.

Chloe is now recovering at home

Adder attacks are relatively rare but we do see them and, in Chloe’s case, it was very severe indeed, life-threatening in fact. We’re just coming to the end now of the peak period for adder bites but owners need to stay vigilant for them.

Catherine Rose, Senior nurse, Vets Now, Bournemouth


Adders are not normally aggressive and only bite if they feel threatened

Adders — the UK’s only poisonous snake — only attack if they are trodden on or disturbed by an inquisitive creature like playful Chloe. 

 They are most likely to bite in spring, when just out of hibernation, but as Chloe’s case demonstrates, that’s not always the case. 


After three days, Chloe was well enough to go back home with Ray, Denise and their other dog, red setter Lily to Epsom, Surrey, where they live. 

Chloe being helped to recuperate by red setter Lily

Ray said: “Poor Chloe didn’t look great — her face was still black from the bruise and her fur was all shaved off so the vets could check the spot where she’d actually been bitten. It looked like the worst kind of lockdown haircut! 

 “But it was great to have her home and we knew she was on the mend when she was back to licking Denise on the nose. 

 “Then she wolfed down a dinner of chicken fillets after being totally off her food and we knew everything was fine."

Catherine urged other pet owners to act quickly if they suspected an adder bite.

“If you think your dog may have been bitten by an adder, then do what Ray and Denise did and seek emergency help straight away – please don’t delay as every minute is crucial in these cases.”