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Rattlesnake Vaccines for Dogs

Updated on August 30, 2013

Dog Health

As a dog owner and lover of canines, I'm concerned about dog health. I wish I'd known about rattlesnake vaccines for dogs years ago. Well, actually, they probably didn't even have them back then, when I specifically needed one.Twenty-five years ago, we had a champion Brittany spaniel named Jeanne. She was a superb quail dog and was somewhat “famous,” locally. In fact, we had many offers from hunters who wanted to buy her. My husband turned down all the offers, much to my dismay. I liked the dog, but she was never really a pet, as she was all business, but I figured we could always train another dog if we sold her. Just after we received our highest offer for the dog, she was bitten by a rattlesnake and killed.

Five years ago, I lost my Anatolian Shepherd, Case, to a rattlesnake bite. The big dog was in the fenced-in back yard, playing with my other dogs. By the time we got home from work, Case was already dead. My other two dogs, Akitas, had the snake cornered, and if we hadn’t arrived at that precise moment, they could have been bitten, also. If you live where rattlesnakes are endemic, your pet is in danger of receiving a snake bite. Rattlesnakes are often even found in suburban areas, so don’t think your dog is safe just because you don’t live in a rural area.

Think rattlesnake venom is deadly to humans? A bite from a venomous snake is more than twenty times more lethal for canines than for humans. The dogs that do survive are often permanently damaged.

Dogs are naturally inquisitive, and many of them seem particularly drawn to snakes. Maybe it’s part of their natural instincts. Of course, the canines don’t realize they’re playing with fire. Unless your dog is inside your home 24-7, or unless you live in an urban area that totally lacks serpents, he’s in danger of being struck by a venomous snake. The best way to protect your pooch from a snake bite is with a rattlesnake vaccine.

Most pet owners make sure their furry friends get a vaccine or booster for rabies each year, yet they fail to vaccinate their dogs and cats against snake bite. This is rather ironic when you consider that the chance of your pet getting bitten by a venomous snake is almost 300 times more likely than the animal contracting rabies. Pretty amazing, huh?

The rattlesnake vaccine can be given to any dog over the age of four months. The vaccine is perfectly safe and government approved. The side effects are rare, and when they do occur, they’re usually very mild. A very few dogs might have some irritation at the site of the injection, or they could have some aches and fever for a short period after receiving the vaccine. That's a very small price to pay for being safe.

The vaccine is very effective against all types of rattlesnakes except for the Mojave rattlesnake. Many vaccinated dogs that have been bitten by a rattlesnake show no symptoms at all. Other dogs receiving a snake bite after an injection might have some swelling and discomfort, but nothing like the symptoms an unvaccinated dog would experience.

If you make the wise choice to vaccinate your dog, he’ll receive his first shot any time after he’s four months old. He’ll receive a second injection 30 days later. How often your dog receives additional vaccines will depend on where you live. In areas with harsh winters, snakes might be active for only a few months out of the year. In that case, your dog would need a booster 30 days prior to “snake season.” If you live in an area with warm or mild winters, snakes might be active the entire year, so your pet would need a booster every six months.

The rattlesnake canine vaccine is manufactured by Red Rock Biologics and is available only through licensed veterinarians. Costs vary among veterinarians, but it is very affordable. Ask your vet about it.

The rattlesnake vaccine is specific for rattlesnake venom and is not effective against other types of venomous snakes, including the cottonmouth, the copperhead, or the coral snake. Also, the manufacturer states that even a vaccinated dog should be seen by a vet immediately after receiving a bite from a rattlesnake.

Protect your beloved pet from rattlesnake bites!
Protect your beloved pet from rattlesnake bites!

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