Rattlesnake Vaccine - Information


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Snake bites can result in the death of your pet

Rattlesnake venom is a complex mixture of toxins that spreads through a dog's body following the bite. According to Red Rock Biologics, the vaccination is much safer than antivenom treatment. Protective antibodies made by your dog in response to the vaccine start neutralizing venom immediately. On average, antibody levels in recently vaccinated dogs are comparable to treatment with three vials of antivenom.

Rattlesnake photo - Red Rock Biologics

Two doses of the vaccine are needed, spaced a month apart for dogs under 100 lbs. Dogs that weigh more than one hundred pounds need a third vaccine one month after the second vaccine in the initial series.
Protection begins one month after the last booster.
Shots are recommended annually in the Spring or a month prior to “snake season”.
At my vet they were $15.00 each, compare the cost to the snakebite treatment estimate below.
The vaccine is labeled against the venom of the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.
Copperhead snake Copperheads are bad in our area, according to my vet two dogs that had been vaccinated were bitten by this snake and said to have had a large decline in swelling and a faster recovery time.
If your dog has been previously bitten and had an allergic reaction, be sure to mention this to your vet as is not recommended that the dog be vaccinated.
The vaccine does not eliminate the need for veterinarian care, and an animal who has been bitten should still be evaluated.
The purpose of the vaccine is to prevent the allergic reaction to the venom of the rattlesnake. It will not prevent an infection, local tissue reaction, or systemic infection. 
According to the Red Rock Biologics’ product information sheets, “The severity of a rattlesnake envenomation (venom-injecting bite) is related to the species of rattlesnake involved, the amount of venom injected, the rate at which the venom reaches systemic circulation, and the size of the dog. 
In unvaccinated dogs, approximately 20 to 25 percent of venomous snakebites are “dry” bites – no venom is injected. 
An additional 30 to 40 percent of bites are classified as “mild,” reflecting minimal envenomation: pain and swelling are present, but there is little or no systemic (whole body) involvement. 
Another 30 to 40 percent of bites are “moderate” to “severe,” reflecting increasing degrees of systemic involvement. 
Roughly 5 percent of envenomations are fatal,” usually due to allergic reaction to the venom.

Vaccinated dogs have fewer and less severe symptoms than similar unvaccinated dogs. Moderate to sever bites present as  mild, with nonprogressive swelling, as the vaccine-elicited antibody combines with the injected venom to slow down systemic absorption, and neutralize toxin activity resulting in less tissue injury or pain..

We've done our own version of "snake-proofing" the dogs and 
today we took "Hat" and "Speedo" for their first snake vaccination.

Speedo wanted to play on the scale all day

Hat wanted to sleep on the cool floor
Hat relaxes in the waiting room.

They both weighed in a 36 pounds
(Photo of Speedo)

ouch! Watch out behind you...
Hat doesn't look like he is having a good time Speedo doesn't know what's coming


 A dog bitten by a snake - See an estimate of cost below

Poor baby

Photo taken by Lisa Lee, provided by Sue Cranston.



Veterinary Hospital

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Anti-venom is very expensive and also may not be readily available as it only has an 18 month shelf life.



Low Qty. Low Amount High Qty. High Amount
7/23/2005 Examination Small Animal 1.00 $30.00 1.00 $30.00
7/23/2005 Fluids Initial Setup IV 1.00 $47.24 1.00 $47.24
7/23/2005 Lactated Ringers Liter 1.00 $10.00 1.00 $10.00
7/23/2005 Soludelta Cortef-100mg/10ML-CC 10.00 $26.00 10.00 $26.00
7/23/2005 Antivenom per vile 1.00 $448.000 3.00 $1,344.00
7/23/2005 Hospitalization 21-50 LBS 1.00 $17.65 1.00 $17.65
7/23/2005 + Antibiotics Depending On Size Animal 1.00 $0.00 1.00 $0.00
Low Subtotal: $578.89 High Subtotal: $1,474.89
Tax: $2.15 Tax: $2.15
Low Total: $566.80 High Total: $1,462.80

If your dog is bitten, snake I.D.  is very important because the vet needs to know what kind of anti venom to use.

Kathleen & her dog Barney, who I met at a Search & Rescue seminar, had an unfortunate run-in with a rattlesnake, she relayed the following..
If your animal is unvaccinated, and "you choose not to have the vet administer the antivenin, be sure to ask them the consequences of that decision. Per the ER vet, loss of limb (if a limb bite), system shutdown (the venom affects the whole body), necrosis of tissue and possible surgery later to close the wound (which can include skin grafts), even cardiac arrest can result. Snake bites are serious."

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