Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs

Few things strike fear in the human heart like the possibility of a snake bite. And of all the snakes, the rattlesnake is probably the most terror-inducing. Dogs, especially those in the southwestern part of the United States, can encounter rattlesnakes on walks or in their backyards. Though dogs also naturally fear snakes, an overly curious dog can get bitten, and a rattlesnake can strike without first being seen. 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, and sometimes death. Treatment may include antivenin (a serum that neutralizes the venom), pain medications, IV fluids, and antibiotics to control secondary infections. But even if the pet recovers, there may be long-term complications. The Rattlesnake Vaccine helps prevent the severity of the envenomation. 


The rattlesnake vaccine, produced by Red Rock Biologics, is specifically designed to produce antibodies against the venom of the western diamondback rattlesnake. The vaccine may also be effective against other snakes with similar venom, such as the sidewinder, timber rattlesnake, and copperhead. There is only one manufacturer of the Rattlesnake Vaccine. 


The vaccine creates protective antibodies that help neutralize venom, so dogs experience less pain and swelling after a snake bite. Bitten dogs may also require less antivenin, which can be fairly costly and produce side effects. Factors influencing the vaccine's effectiveness include the bite's location, the type of snake, and the amount of venom injected. 


Cost of the vaccine: $49.00 


For dogs receiving this vaccine for the first time, it it administered in two vaccines 1 month apart. Thereafter annually in Spring.




Healthy Dogs  

Adventurous Dogs - that may encounter a Rattlesnake in their adventures. 

  • Dogs that enjoy hiking with their owners – East Bay Area, Las Trampas, etc. 

  • Dogs that are allowed off-leash 

  • Clients that state they have seen or heard of Rattlesnakes in their neighborhood. 


Puppies should be older than four months of age before receiving this vaccine.


Any animal ill or suffering from a chronic, immunosuppressive condition should not be vaccinated. Dogs with a previous history of vaccine reactions should be treated with care, weighing the individual need for vaccination and the likelihood of mitigating future reactions with the risks of revaccination.




Our veterinarians will always offer guidance on their recommendations based on individual dog owners. 


This is our usual recommendation: 


For Dogs who have never had the vaccine: 

  • Receive 1st booster, then 3-4 weeks later receive 2nd  booster.  

  • Then, annually, every Spring before peak rattlesnake season. 


The vaccine's protective effect is most evident four to six weeks after vaccination and declines over time. Dogs exposed to rattlesnakes for more than six months of the year may require boosters twice a year. 




We are in the midst of "Rattlesnake Season," when the highest population of out-and-about rattlesnakes coincides with peak outdoor family activities. The California Poison Control System manages and reports approximately 250 cases of rattlesnake bites each year. 


Rattlesnakes may be spotted anywhere from off-road dirt trails to your own backyards and front porches. Rattlesnake bites are frightening, though not entirely unexpected, for unsuspecting home gardeners, fervent hikers, or children playing or hiking in our many open-space parks and wilderness areas. 


Like all cold-blooded animals, rattlesnakes are more active in the hotter seasons. They like to bask in the sun most days, increasing the chances of encountering one when hiking, camping, or walking in the Tri-Valley area.


The most important concept to grasp is that we live in their backyards, not the other way around. Therefore, prevention and avoidance are the most critical methods for handling rattlesnakes during the season. 



The vaccine cannot be administered to cats. However, cats can still get bit by a rattlesnake – the factors for their treatment and survival depend on where they were bit, how much venom they received, and the cat's health. Cats are bitten less frequently than dogs; their bites usually occur on the owner's property. 


The best way to prevent cats from being bitten and dogs on the owner's property is to clear brush and firewood away from their homes and keep grass mowed in areas where cats and dogs frequent. 




General treatment: To decrease the spread of the venom, the animal will be kept quiet, and the bitten area will be immobilized if possible. The area around the wound will also be clipped and cleaned. 


Supportive treatment: Antihistamines may be administered, and IV fluids are given to help prevent low blood pressure. Oxygen is given if needed. Antibiotics are used to prevent secondary infections. Pain medication is provided as necessary. Laboratory tests to check for bleeding problems and organ damage will be performed repeatedly. Blood transfusions may be required in cases of severe coagulopathies. The area above and below the bite wounds may be measured every 15 minutes to monitor the edema. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are contraindicated in the early phase (first 24 hours) of treatment because of the different types of venom and the anticoagulant effects of NSAIDs. The use of corticosteroids may be contraindicated also, as some research shows they increase the severity of the bite. 


Specific treatment: Antivenin* may be administered. The use of antivenin is controversial and is at the discretion of the attending veterinarian. To be most effective, antivenin should be given within 4 hours of the bite. It becomes less effective as time passes. 


For more information, visit: http://redrockbiologics.com/ 



Tuffy: https://www.webvets.com/lives-saved/tuffy-73.html

Brownie: https://www.webvets.com/lives-saved/brownie-50.html


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