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Rattlesnake Vaccines

Canine Rattlesnake Vaccine

Is my dog at risk of being bitten?

As a resident of southern California, there is always the potential risk of your dog being bitten when outside in the warmer months. While those who live in the city are much less likely to encounter a rattlesnake, those who have homes in rural/ranching areas or in areas bordering open lands face a much greater risk of their dog being bitten. Owners who enjoy taking their dog hiking are also placing their dog at a high risk of exposure.

What dangers do rattlesnake bites present for my dog?

Rattlesnake bites are very serious and their effects wide. One bite is enough to injure a dog and could destroy skin and muscle tissue, cause permanent liver, kidney, heart, neurological, and/or joint damage, and even cause death. A bite is severely painful to the dog and can cost thousands of dollars to treat.

What does the rattlesnake vaccine do to protect my dog?

The rattlesnake vaccine is designed to reduce the likelihood of death, permanent injury, and severe pain that is caused by rattlesnake bites. The vaccine works by stimulating the dog’s immune system to produce antibodies against the venom. These antibodies last for months and neutralize the rattlesnake venom in a way very similar to antivenin. Benefits reported to the vaccine’s manufacturer have included a delayed onset of symptoms (meaning an extended window for early treatment), less severe symptoms, less treatment needed or, in some cases, no treatment needed, and faster recovery time with little or no necrosis (death of living cells or tissues).

The vaccine sounds amazing! If my dog is vaccinated will it still need examining?

Absolutely. As great as the successes have been with the vaccine, it still has its limitations. A rattlesnake bite is still a serious situation even in vaccinated animals and, if bitten, they should be examined by your veterinarian to determine what treatments are necessary as soon as possible. The reason for giving the vaccine is to lessen, not eliminate, the severity of bites and allow the dog, and its owners, more time to reach their veterinarian for assistance.

Is the vaccine safe?

The vaccine has an excellent safety record. Less than 1% of dogs suffer any side effects and allergic reactions are rare and estimated at about 1 in 250,000 injections. The most common side effect is the forming of a small granuloma (lump) at the injection site. This lump typically doesn’t bother the dog and will usually self resolve in about two to six weeks. If you think an allergic or other reaction has occurred post vaccination then contact your veterinarian for advice on what should be done.

How often will my dog need to be vaccinated?

For dogs between 25 lbs and 100 lbs: Initially, two doses are given, spaced one month apart.

For dogs less than 25 lbs or over 100 lbs: Initially, three doses are given, spaced one month apart. This is due to a need for higher antibody levels in the larger and smaller breeds.

After the initial series is given, dogs should get at least one booster per year approximately one month before potential rattlesnake exposure; typically we recommend the booster be given in February or March as that is when the temperature starts rising, creating an environment the rattlesnakes like. Dogs in higher risk areas and dogs exposed to rattlesnakes for longer than 6 month periods (such as those that hike with their owners year-round) should receive a booster every 6 months.

When can my animal receive the vaccine?

The vaccine is intended for use in healthy dogs above the age of 4 months.

How can I get the vaccine for my dogs?

Simply schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

For additional information regarding the vaccine, speak to your veterinarian or visit the manufacturer’s website at http://www.redrockbiologics.com

Veterinary Topics