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  • Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs

    Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs

    There are lots of different types of vaccines that can be beneficial for our dogs. Whilst most owners have heard of vaccinations that can protect their pets against disease and parasites, far fewer have come across one that is particularly valuable for dogs that live in certain areas of the United States where rattlesnakes are prevalent – the rattlesnake vaccine. 


    Rattlesnakes can be found throughout North and South America, but they are particularly common in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. These creatures tend to make dens in holes in the ground, crevices within rocks or even hollowed logs. They tend to hibernate during the fall and winter but are out in the spring and summer months. If you are out walking or hiking with your dog in a fairly rural area, there is every chance that you or your canine pal may come across a rattlesnake which, if it feels vulnerable, may attack. Estimates suggest that as many as 300,000 cats and dogs are bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. each year, and as many as 99% of these may be from rattlesnakes. 



    Why is it important to give your dog a rattlesnake vaccine?

    Rattlesnakes are extremely venomous, and if your canine companion gets bitten, it can have very serious consequences. Some rattlesnake venom is hemotoxic. This means that it works by disrupting the integrity of the victim’s blood vessels, resulting in tissue damage, internal bleeding, and significant pain. Some rattlesnakes are known to have neurotoxic venom. This works by attacking the nervous system and will cause your pet to become paralyzed. If your dog happens to be bitten on the face or throat, the swelling that occurs as a result of any rattlesnake bite could cause their airway to become blocked – something which is again life-threatening. Different kinds of rattlesnakes have different types and strengths of venom, and some may not inject venom whatsoever. The fact that it is impossible to know exactly what threat a rattler presents means that it is far better to vaccinate your pet against all varieties. 



    What does the rattlesnake vaccine do?

    The rattlesnake vaccine will not entirely counteract the effects of a rattlesnake bite. However, it is designed to help your canine develop antibodies that will lessen the effects of a rattlesnake bite if they do receive one. Studies have found animals experience less pain and tissue damage in the area of the bite, the effects of the venom take longer to appear and there may be less need for antivenom. 


    The rattlesnake vaccine is designed to predominantly protect your dog from the full effects of the venom of the Western Diamondback rattler. However, it may also provide a degree of protection against the venom from the following additional varieties of rattlesnakes:

    • Copperhead
    • Easter Diamondback 
    • Massasauga 
    • Sidewinder
    • Western
    • Timber


    As with other vaccines, it is essential that the doses of the drug are administered in accordance with the schedule recommended by your veterinarian. This will ensure that your dog receives adequate protection respective of their age or size. 



    What should I do if my dog is bitten by a rattlesnake?

    Any sort of snakebite should be treated as an emergency, regardless of whether or not your pet has been vaccinated. If you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a snake, please contact our offices as soon as you can. 


    If you would like to know more about the rattlesnake vaccine, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert veterinary team by calling our offices.