A champion show dog has died after it was bitten by a snake in its owner’s back garden.
Four-year-old prize-winning whippet North was attacked by an adder last month, despite the snakes rarely being spotted in the winter.
It it thought the mildest December in years caused the adder to roam more than usual rather than hibernate.
Distraught owner Rosaline Corsar, 59, a care assistant, is now warning other pet owners of a new winter danger from adders, which are Britain’s only venomous snakes.
North was in the garden at her home in Stirling on December 22 when it was bitten, which caused noticeable swelling on the back of the dog’s front and hind leg.
Experts at Glasgow Veterinary School’s small animals hospital, where North was treated, carried out tests which indicated the death was the result of a snake bite.
The dog had been given emergency treatment for a week but sadly had to be put down after suffering kidney failure.
Rosaline said: “It’s a total nightmare. He was a champion show dog. I’ve lost my boy.
“I knew by his face something had happened. He was totally crippled. I couldn’t find a mark on him.
“After a couple of hours the swelling started and the skin started breaking. I took him up to the vets in Stirling.
“I had him up there three days in a row. By Christmas Day he just deteriorated. He was in renal failure. I transferred him up to Glasgow Vet School.
“You never think when you’re going to put your dog out in the morning he is going to get bitten by a snake.”
The whippet had won awards all over the country at several top dog shows and had become a UK champion.
Heartbroken Rosaline said North was due to compete at an event in Manchester last week but instead she had to pick up her pet’s ashes.
She said: “On the morning North became ill, I let him out into the garden as usual.
“He went along by the hedge. I never saw the snake strike but I knew from my dog’s face that something had happened and a couple of hours later a swelling appeared on the back of his leg and hock.”
North visited the vet three days in a row, where he was given antibiotics.
By Boxing Day he was starting to suffer from renal failure due to the toxins from the bite.
The following day the whippet’s health deteriorated again and on December 28 Rosaline took her beloved dog to Glasgow Vet School to try to get his kidneys working.
But it was too late and on December 30th North had to be put to sleep.
Rosaline said: “Unfortunately his kidneys failed and everything started to shut down and he had to be put to sleep.
“I was distraught. He was a champion dog and had won awards all over the country and at some of the top dog shows.
“I should have been showing him at an event in Manchester but instead I was picking up his ashes.”
Rosaline is worried that the snake may still be lurking in her garden, leaving her frightened to let her other whippet Dino off the leash.
She added: “I have contacted the council and the SSPCA because I think someone needs to come and check the area to see if this snake is still around because at the moment I am frightened to let my dog off the lead and there are lots of other dogs in the area.”
David Paterson, practice principal at Brucefield Vets in Stirling, was the first vet to see North but felt the champion dog’s symptoms were “nondescript”.
He said: “He had a swelling on his leg, a tiny wound and was running a temperature.
“We provided treatment and the dog seemed to improve over the next 24 hours but two days later he started to go downhill, his leg became more swollen.
“He required emergency treatment and was taken to the Glasgow University Vet School.
“They worked very hard and conducted tests and their tentative diagnosis was an adder bite.
“I have been in the practice for 25 years and in that time I cannot remember an adder bite diagnosis coming from Stirling itself.
“You get them from outside the area but for a dog to be bitten by a snake in a garden in Stirling at this time of year is bizarre. And it just shows how mild the weather has been.”
Elizabeth Trousdale, 62, from Irvine, North Ayrshire, bred North. The pooch was part of a litter of ten to bitch Layla.
She said: “Rosaline made him a champion and took him all across the country to show him off.
“She loved him to bits. I was devastated when I found out, especially for poor Rosaline.
“He was such a beautiful dog, a very handsome boy.”