Rattlesnake Bites and Rattlesnake Vaccination

Few things strike fear in the human heart like the possibility of a rattlesnake bite. Dogs can encounter rattlesnakes on their walks or in their yards and being curious, often get bitten on the face, head, or front legs. The rattlesnake vaccine reduces the effects of a western diamondback rattlesnake bite and may also protect against the venom of other snakes.

Rattlesnake bites are painful and the injected venom can result in tissue swelling, impaired blood clotting, shock, tissue destruction, and sometimes death. Treatment may include antivenom (a serum that neutralizes the venom), pain medications, IV fluids, and antibiotics to control secondary infections. Luckily, vaccination is now available to help prevent the severity of the envenomation.

The rattlesnake vaccine, produced by Red Rocks Biologics, works by creating protective antibodies that help neutralize venom, so dogs experience less pain and swelling. Dogs that are bitten may also require less antivenom, which can be fairly costly and produce side effects. Factors that can influence the effectiveness of the vaccine include the location of the bite, the type of snake, and the amount of venom injected.

After the first vaccination, the dog should receive a booster approximately one month later, followed by annual boosters in the spring before peak rattlesnake season. The vaccine's protective effect is most evident the first month or two after vaccination and declines over time.

***Please remember that even if your dog has received the rattlesnake vaccination, you must still seek immediate veterinary help.