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Family’s pet dog is left fighting for his life after being bitten twice by a snake

PUBLISHED: 18:20 02 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:17 03 May 2018

Five year old Charlie was bitten twice by an adder. Picture: David Harper

Five year old Charlie was bitten twice by an adder. Picture: David Harper

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A five year old German Shepherd cross has been left fighting for his life and is in danger of losing his leg after being bitten by up to two snakes in mid-Norfolk.

Five year old Charlie was bitten twice by an adder. Picture: David HarperFive year old Charlie was bitten twice by an adder. Picture: David Harper

Yaxham resident David Harper said he left work last week after hearing news that his dog Charlie was at the Old Golfhouse Vetinery Group in Watton after injuring his paw and initially thought nothing of it.

But when he arrived the severity of the situation soon set in.

“Everybody in the practice was in tears and when I saw Charlie I just burst into tears myself,” Mr Harper said.

“He was so close to death, it is only because the vets worked so hard for him that he is still here.”

Five year old Charlie was bitten twice by an adder. Picture: David HarperFive year old Charlie was bitten twice by an adder. Picture: David Harper

Charlie had been staying with Mr Harper’s sister in law and playing in the back garden on April 23 when he first developed a limp. His paw swelled up and he was taken to the vets where he was diagnosed with having possibly broken his paw.

“They gave him painkillers and asked him to come back the next morning but by then his leg was swollen too and he was rushed back to the vets,” Mr Harper continued.

“The vet immediately began treatment and that is when they found the puncture on his paw and they were certain it was an adder bite.”

Bruising rapidly spread across Charlie’s body and when vets shaved his chest they discovered a second puncture mark, indicating that he had been attacked twice after potentially standing on a pair of snakes.

He was transferred to Swayne and Partners, a 24-hour vet based in Bury St Edmunds, where more complications developed as the venom had caused his bladder to rupture. He underwent emergency surgery on Friday, along with a blood transfusion.

He is still at the vets and gradually recovering from the operation. Mr Harper’s partner Tilly Morgan, who also works at the Old Golfhouse vet, said they are hoping Charlie will make it home at the end of the week.

However, the damage to the skin tissue on his leg is so extensive that there is a possibility it will have to be amputated.

The couple praised the vets in Watton and Bury St Edmunds, calling them “incredible”.

Mr Harper added: “I’d always been told that adders are more or less harmless. I could not have been more wrong.”

What should you do if your dog is bitten?

Claire Low, vet at Swayne and Partners in Bury St Edmunds, treated Charlie and her message to dog owners if they suspect a bite is to see a vet immediately.

“There is a high risk of adder bites at this time of year as they are waking up and coming out of hibernation,” she said. “Bites are common but they do not always involve venom, they can be dry bites. If you suspect your dog has been bitten you should go and see a vet straight away.

“The most common areas for bites are Norfolk, towards Essex, and Surrey and small dogs are usually most vulnerable. In terms of complications, this dog was particuarly unlucky, deaths are uncommon but other problems can develop.

“Venom can cause a whole series of very serious complications, including attacking the heart muscle and causing problems with the kidneys.”

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