A very common spring flower to bright up gardens and parks at this time of year is crocus (Crocus species). The flowers may be orange, yellow, violet or blue and the petals can be veined violet or white. This plant is considered to be of low toxicity (saffron, which is used to flavour and colour a variety of foods, is actually the dried flower parts of a crocus species [Crocus sativus]). Ingestion of crocus may cause a mild gastrointestinal upset, and severe signs are not expected.
This spring flowering crocus is not to be confused with autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale), which flowers in the autumn and contains colchicine, a toxic compound
With the festivities over and spring (almost) upon us it is nearly the start of adder season. We have already had our first few calls regarding an adder bite. Snakes hibernate during the winter months but are commonly seen during the spring and throughout the summer months. The European adder generally will only bite when provoked. Not all bites result in envenomation, but still can elicit a painful response.
Local effects – The majority of dogs will develop local effects and painful swelling may occur within minutes of the bite and can last several days. Puncture wounds may be visible and may weep exudate. If the bite is to the face the swelling may affect the animal’s ability to eat and drink and to thermoregulate.
Systemic effects – Systemic effects include lethargy, bruising, hypersalivation, vomiting and diarrhoea, panting, tachypnoea and lameness (if bitten on a limb). Shock, collapse and hypotension can occur. Other signs can include haematological, renal, hepatic and cardiac. Death is uncommon.
Treatment is supportive with IV fluids, analgesia (preferably opioid analgesia), an antihistamine and antivenom. Routine use of an antibiotic is not required as infection is not common. Steroids must not be given where antivenom is to be used. We can offer specific advice on the use of antivenom and information on obtaining antivenom is available on our website.
If you are interested in confirming a suspected adder bite we can help with the arrangements. There is no cost as this is an unvalidated assay, done for research purposes. Just give us a call for details. A blood sample must be taken BEFORE antivenom is administered.