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Rattlesnake bites are a very serious veterinary emergency that results in serious injury or even death to thousands of dogs every year. Luckily, vaccination is now available to help prevent the severity of the reaction.

  • What's up with Rattlesnake bites?

Rattlesnake venom is a complex mixture of toxins that spread through an animals body following a bite. Most rattlesnakes' venom is hemotoxic. This means that it disrupts the integrity of the victim's blood vessels, resulting in pain, tissue damage, serious muscle and liver damage, and internal bleeding. If the bite is on the throat or face, the resultant swelling can cause death due to airway closure as well. Some rattlesnakes have neurotoxic venom, which attacks the nervous system and results in paralysis.

  • Why should I vaccinate my dog?

When your dog has been vaccinated with a rattlesnake vaccine, the body is provided with essential antibodies against snake venom that could help lessen the effects of the toxins and buy you more time to get to the veterinarian.

While the vaccine will help your dog in this critical time, it is still important to get him/her to your veterinarian for treatment with antivenom immediately if your dog is bitten.

  • What do if my dog is bitten?

Rattlesnake bites are a very serious emergency. If your dog is bitten by a snake, it is crucial that you get to your veterinarian as soon as possible! Treatment after a dog is bitten is very expensive and is not a guarantee that your dog will survive. Treatment may include antivenin (a serum that neutralizes the venom), pain medications, IV fluids, and antibiotics to control secondary infections. Even if your dog survives the initial bite, complications may occur and the effects may be lifelong.

Vaccination, knowing your surroundings, and educating yourself on what to do in the event your dog is bitten, allow you the best possible chance at keeping your dog safe.

  • I'm ready to vaccinate, now what?

A Home Vet has rattlesnake vaccine on hand and ready to administer. We do also keep antivenom in stock should your dog ever get bitten and you find yourself in an emergency.

The cost of vaccine is $35. If this is your dogs first time getting the rattlesnake vaccine, he/she will need a booster in 30 days to become fully protected. After that, vaccine is only required 30 days prior to anticipated exposure risk to rattlesnakes (spring).

Typically the vaccine takes 30 days to protect your friend, and will last approximately 6 months. Depending on your lifestyle, vaccination in the spring is usually enough to protect your dog for the upcoming summer adventures.

Summer of 2017 we did have a patient that was bitten by a rattlesnake and brought right in. Fortunately, his owner saw it happen and was able to get him to us quickly. We are happy to report that this guy made a full recovery and was home in less than 24hrs! 

If you have any questions, or need to schedule an appointment for vaccination, please contact the clinic at 406-839-5763.