ON THE MEND: Ken Dodd with four-year-old George who is recovering well after being bitten
ON THE MEND: Ken Dodd with four-year-old George who is recovering well after being bitten

DOG owners are being warned to be careful when exercising their pets along a popular walking route on the edge of Barnard Castle following an adder bite incident.

Ken Dodd, of Marwood Drive, in Barnard Castle, said he was “shocked” to find four-year-old Jack Russell, George, who he is fostering had been bitten by an adder.

It happened after they went on a walk by Barnard Castle Golf Club, adjacent to Harmire Industrial Estate, and Mr Dodd is hoping to warn other dog owners to be careful.

The patch of land, which has a narrow path and dense undergrowth next to a stream, is often used by dog walkers on the way to Flatts Woods.

Mr Dodd, a retired headteacher, said: “Something caught his [George] interest.

“He was pulling on the lead and pushing his nose into the grass. I thought maybe he’d smelled a rabbit. I didn’t think anything of it. It was only later when we were at home that the right hand side of his face had begun to swell, then the left and under his chin became enlarged and spongy.

“He was really out of sorts and we bathed him in damp towels but he was really lethargic and didn’t want to walk anywhere.”


Mr Dodd said he was unable to see the vets until several days later, when the swelling had started to calm down. It was then they confirmed George had been bitten by a baby adder.

He said: “I was shocked and as I didn’t have my hearing aid in, I didn’t think I had heard correctly. But they said the baby adders are emerging from their nests and pointed out the bite marks under his chin. And I think it’s best other dog owners are aware of the situation.”

The European adder is the only venomous snake native to the UK. They are commonly found in forest edges, moorland, sand dunes and rocky hillsides and are protected by law.

Helen Brannan, of Castle Vets, said: “Bites tend to occur when stepped on or disturbed by your dog. Most will be bitten on the face or legs. When a dog has been bitten the area will swell and the skin will often look dark. Sometimes you can see two small puncture wounds in the centre of the swollen area.

“Other signs of an adder bite are pale gums, bruising, drooling, diarrhoea, dehydration, restlessness, drowsiness and lethargy. Eventually if left untreated, your pet may collapse.”

If you suspect an adder bite contact your vet. Bathe the affected area in cool water and try to minimise swelling. If possible carry the pet rather than have them walk. Vets will treat for shock, give pain relief and try to reduce the swelling. On some occasions anti-venom will be given.