A woman is urging dog owners to be cautious after her pet was bitten by an adder.

Lucy Crawford was visiting her parents in Beaminster on a getaway that ended with a trip to the emergency vets.

Mrs Crawford said: “My husband and I had come down for Easter and we were joined by our two sons aged 20 and 21. 

"We brought our two golden working cocker spaniels Calico and her three-year-old daughter Willow. 

“We had a lovely walk at Cogden Beach on Good Friday and so my husband and sons decided to try West Bexington on Saturday.”

However, it was on this walk when an adder struck Willow.

She added: “When they arrived home, she didn’t eat her food and I noticed a large swelling under her chin and on the side of her face.

“My husband had picked up a few fish hooks from the beach and so our initial thought was that she might have swallowed one. 

“We took her to the emergency vet in Dorchester where the vet said she would have suspected an adder bite given the amount of swelling and the fact that she had been staggering but didn’t think there were adders in that location, it was very early in the season, and it would be unlikely for them to be on the beach.”

The vet gave Willow an x-ray and a thorough examination and found one puncture mark, however the family were told that an adder ‘would typically leave two.’

Mrs Crawford added: “She thought it might have been a fish spine or hornet and sent us home with pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication and advised us to keep a close eye on her as it was still possible that it had been an adder.

“When we arrived home, I came across this website about Cogden and West Bexington which said, ‘be warned, the area is known for venomous snakes’ and that sightings showed that the adders started emerging from the start of February.”

It became more obvious to the family 'that there were two puncture marks on her muzzle’ and one of the son's had ‘remembered that Willow had jumped back from a bush at the edge of the beach looking affronted and she started staggering shortly afterwards.’

After some pain relief, the pup began to eat well and seemed to be improving.

Mrs Crawford said: “The vet agreed it was almost certainly an adder bite but advised that it was best not to give the anti-venom if she was recovering well as it has significant risks.  She told us to keep an eye out for any abscess at the bite location in which case she would need antibiotics.

“Since then, she has recovered well.  There is a very dramatic bruise down her neck and still some swelling, but she is back to her usual bouncy self.  Someone explained to me that adders are slower early in the season and so may be more likely to strike than slither away.

“I would advise anyone walking their dog at Cogden or West Bexington to keep them well away from the vegetation at the edge of the beach.

“Dogs are permitted on the beach but not in the bird reserve, so they were keeping them on the beach.  Willow is a terrible scavenger, and she licked a dead porpoise head and then munched a bit of a dead guillemot.”