Does My Dog Need a Rattlesnake Vaccine?

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Now that the sun is out, Zuma isn’t the only place you’ll find sunbathers. 

As the season changes and temperatures warm up, snakes come out from their hiding places to bask in the sun. Snakes are cold-blooded and can’t control their body heat on their own, which is why on a hot summers day you’ll see them moving between shade and sun-exposed areas. While we need to be careful out on the trail and walking through brush, it is important to remember that our furry friends are also at a high risk of a snake bite. 

There are more options to help us protect our dogs from snake bites than ever before. While the best option against snake bites is avoidance, the rattlesnake vaccination functions as an additional defense if your pet does happen to get bitten. However, even if vaccinated, the pet still needs to be seen for emergency care. The rattlesnake vaccine functions as a stimulant to the dog’s immune system, causing it to create antibodies against rattlesnake venom. The concept is that the antibodies already created in a vaccinated dogs body will work towards neutralizing the venom when bitten. Ideally, the patient will have less permanent damage from the bite, experience less pain, and give the patient a larger time window to reach medical care which is crucial if a dog is on a hike or doesn’t live near an emergency clinic. 

The rattlesnake vaccine is a great option for many dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors and have frequent possible exposure to rattlesnakes. However, if your dog has an autoimmune disorder, is suffering from an illness, or has ever had a vaccine reaction, it might not be the right choice. Consulting with your veterinarian about your dog’s health and lifestyle will help determine if the rattlesnake vaccine is the right choice for your dog. MM

Holly Bieler