These are the UK's only native poisonous snake and are found in
a wide range of different habitats. Adders hibernate over winter
and emerge in spring; this is the time when the likelihood of being
bitten is highest. These snakes often bask in the sun and
inquisitive dogs that stumble upon them are most often bitten
around the face, muzzle and front paws.
Signs that a dog has been bitten may appear quickly and can
include small puncture wounds, swelling, bruising, pain, lameness,
salivation, vomiting, increased temperature, bleeding and may also
include changes to the heart beat, blood pressure and breathing
Dogs that are bitten should be taken to a veterinarian as soon
as possible and the bite should be left alone.
No tourniquets should be applied and owners should not attempt
to suck out the poison as this may cause further complications. If
you see an adder in your garden, or when out for a walk, it is
advisable to leave it alone. The adder is a protected species and
it is illegal to harm or kill them.
Blue-green algae can be found in many types of waterbody
throughout the UK (i.e. ponds, streams, lakes, estuaries etc.) and
these can produce toxins which may be harmful to animals and
humans. The types of chemicals produced by the algae may vary and
can therefore cause a wide range of different clinical effects.
These effects can range from vomiting and diarrhoea (both of which
may be bloody) to lethargy, effects on the heart and blood
pressure, twitching, problems breathing, liver and kidney
impairment or can even cause death shortly after exposure.
Dogs are most commonly exposed when swimming, playing in or
drinking from contaminated water. Water that contains blue-green
algae may appear a different colour, or may be recognisable from
coloured algal blooms, appearing on the surface of the water, or
close to the shore. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know if
there are any toxins present in the water without testing.
The amount of algae in a body of water may vary throughout the
year, but is likely to be at its greatest in, or after, hot and
sunny periods (i.e. mid to late summer) and will vary depending on
the amount of nutrients available in the water. If you come across
a body of water that is known to contain blue-green algae, do not
let your dog swim in it or drink from it.
Seasonal Canine Illness
The cause of this particular illness is not known (and may not
actually be a poison) but appears to affect a very small proportion
of dogs taken for walks in woodlands between August and November.
Dogs can appear with a range of clinical effects, but the most
common signs are sickness, diarrhoea and lethargy, which most
typically appear 72 hours after walking through woodland.
Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) was first identified in 2009 after
similar cases of an unknown illness were seen in Norfolk (the
Sandringham Estate and Thetford Forest), Nottinghamshire (Sherwood
Forest and Clumber Park) and Suffolk (Rendlesham Forest).
How to use this information
The information is intended to be used to prevent poisoning by
raising awareness of certain poisons, rather than as a document to
be used in an emergency. If you suspect that your dog has been
poisoned, or has come into contact with potentially poisonous
substances, contact your local veterinary practice immediately.
The lists of poisons in this information guide are not
exhaustive. If an item is not mentioned in this guide it should not
be assumed that it is not poisonous. Further advice on substances
that could harm your dog could be sought from your local veterinary
Who can I contact for further advice?
The Kennel Club is not a veterinary organisation and is unable
to provide general or case specific veterinary advice. If you
have any questions regarding any of the issues discussed in this
article then please contact your local veterinary practice for
What to do if you suspect your dog has been poisoned
If you think that your dog may have eaten, touched or inhaled
something that it shouldn't have, consult your local veterinary
Do not try to make your dog sick. Trying to do this can cause
other complications, which may harm your dog.
In an emergency you can help your veterinary practice make an
informed decision as to whether your dog needs to be treated by
them, and if so, what the best treatment would be. Where possible
you should provide your veterinary practice with information
- What poison you think your dog has been exposed to (i.e.
chocolate, ibuprofen, etc.). Include any product names, or lists of
ingredients if relevant
- How much they may have been exposed to (i.e. 500mg, 500ml, one
tablet etc, even approximations may help)
- When your dog was exposed to the poison (i.e. 5 minutes, 5
hours or 5 days ago)
- If your dog has been unwell, and if so, what clinical effects
have been seen
It is easier for a veterinarian to care for a poisoned dog if it
is treated sooner rather than later. If you are in any doubt, do
not wait for your dog to become unwell before calling for
If you do need to take your dog to your veterinary practice,
make sure that you take along any relevant packaging, or a sample
of the poison, i.e. parts of plant or fungi. Always make sure that
you yourself are protected and cannot be poisoned in turn.