A TYNEDALE vet has warned dog owners to be aware of an alarming rise in adder attacks in the region.
So far this year, five bites by the poisonous snakes have been reported to Orchard House Veterinary surgeries in Hexham and Stocksfield.
None of the dogs has been killed by the potentially deadly venom.
But the incidents at Prudhoe, Wark, Thorngrafton and Allendale have occurred in an unusually short space of time.
Jill Crawford, one of three vets at the Orchard House surgeries, said: “I have worked in this practice for three years and up until this year there have been no attacks, as far as I know.
“It can be life-threatening. It all depends on the size of the animal and whether the snake has bitten recently. The age of the snake is also a factor.”
The first two attacks took place before the end of February, the last three since April.
Mrs Crawford said: “It may just be that it’s just a coincidental cluster of attacks.
“Dogs usually get bitten around the neck and face. If they are not treated quickly they can die a very unpleasant death.
“I would just ask owners to be aware. Certainly don’t stop going for walks – it’s a very low percentage of dogs that get bitten.”
One of those to suffer was Jennifer Dodd-Noble, 77, who was walking in moorland near her home when her highland terrier Morar was bitten.
She said: “I saw her playing with something and realised it was a snake. She had been bitten but we took her straight to the vet and, thankfully, she has pulled through.” Mrs Crawford praised Mrs Dodd-Noble, who is from Lonkley, Allendale, for her quick thinking.
She said: “Morar is very lucky, considering she’s a tiny Highland Terrier. The owner was very sensible because she carried her home immediately.”
Adders are most likely to come out on warm days and are not aggressive.
They tend to use their poison when attacked.
Mrs Crawford said that the best thing a dog’s owner can do following a bite is to take their pet to the vet’s immediately – making sure they are carried all the way.