Rattlesnake Vaccine Protects Dogs

In the desert southwest, rattlesnakes are a part of the native desert landscape. As the weather warms in the springtime and people return to spending more time outdoors, rattlesnakes also become more active. From the Arizona deserts to the mountain forests, rattlesnakes can be found from spring through summer and into the autumn months.

Dogs can encounter a rattlesnake anytime they are in rattlesnake habitats. If you and your dog enjoy hiking, camping, hunting, or you live near or on a desert preserve, your risk of meeting a rattlesnake is increased significantly. Like people, dogs may stumble over the location of snake totally by accident.

According to Dr. Holmes, there is now a rattlesnake vaccine on the market for dogs that aids in the protection against the harmful effects of venom (primarily the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, as well as several other species found in Arizona).

“The Red Rock Rattlesnake Vaccine is a preventative measure just like annual vaccines against infectious diseases,” says Dr. Holmes. “Thus it must be given prior to any bite.”

While this vaccine may sound like a cure against rattlesnake bites, Dr. Holmes cautions that it has remained controversial in the veterinary field because it does not provide complete protection against the harmful effects of rattlesnake venom.

The vaccine works by generating protective antibodies against the venom in a vaccinated dog. These protective antibodies then begin neutralizing any venom encountered immediately following a rattlesnake bite which, in turn, cause less severe effects such as less swelling, less pain, and hopefully, a faster recovery.

“It’s important to stress that a dog that is bitten, even though vaccinated with the rattlesnake vaccine, must still obtain immediate veterinary care,” continues Dr. Holmes Other factors that still play a role in the severity of the effects from the venom include the type of rattlesnake, the location of the bite, and the amount of venom injected.

The doctors at North Kenilworth Veterinary Care recommend that you consider vaccinating your dog with rattlesnake vaccine. For additional information on this new vaccine, check out the manufacturer’s website.

First Aid Tips for Rattlesnake Bites in Dogs

Rattlesnake bites are serious veterinary emergencies that can be fatal to dogs. They cause hyper-excitability due to the toxins and general pain. It is critical that you keep the dog as calm as possible and carry him home or back to the car to restrict movement. Large dogs that cannot be carried should be walked quietly to transportation. All dogs bitten by rattlesnakes should be seen by a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Knowing what to do and what not to do if you and your dog encounter a rattlesnake can prove to be potentially life-saving information.

Preventing Snake Bites

  • When walking outdoors, controlling your dog with a leash is your best safety device.
  • Do not allow your dog to explore holes in the ground or dig under logs, flat rocks or planks.
  • Stay on open paths where there is an opportunity for snakes to be visible.
  • Keep nighttime walks to a minimum as rattlesnakes are nocturnal.
  • If you hear a rattlesnake, keep your dog at your side until you locate the snake, then move away.
  • Off-trail hiking with an unleashed dog may stir up a snake; you both could become victims.
  • If your dog seems unusually curious about something hidden in the grass, back off immediately until you know what it is.

Take Immediate Action in case of snake bite

  • Try to identify the snake by noting its size, color pattern, and whether or not there is a rattle at the end of its tail.
  • Restrict movement of the dog.
  • Look the dog over carefully for fang marks, noting that there may be more than one bite wound.
  • If bitten on a leg, loosely immobilize the limb in a functional position.
  • Do Not incise the bite wound to aspirate the venom.
  • Do Not apply a tourniquet without veterinary assistance.
  • Do Not apply ice to the area.
  • Travel to the nearest animal hospital quickly while keeping your dog as quiet as possible.