Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs: Pros and Cons

October 6, 2022by DOGuide0

Red Rock Biologics reports that about 300,000 dogs and cats are bitten every year by venomous snakes in the United States. In addition, dogs are 500 times more likely to be bitten by a poisonous snake than suffer from rabies. Fortunately, the dog rattlesnake vaccine is available. Below you will learn about the rattlesnake vaccine for dogs pros and cons.

Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs: Pros and Cons

The rattlesnake vaccination has many pros and cons for dogs. Learning what they are will help you make the decision on whether you should get the dog rattlesnake vaccine for your pup.

Pros of the Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs

The rattlesnake vaccine was created to save dogs lives because of the life-threatening effects of venomous snake bites. Learn more about the pros of rattlesnake vaccines for dogs below.

Approved by the USDA

The canine rattlesnake vaccine was approved by the USDA in 2004 after being first licensed in California for a year.

dog rattlesnake vaccine

Reduces Venomous Snake Bite Effects

When a dog is bitten by a rattlesnake, venom is ejected. Rattlesnake venom is life-threatening to dogs. It can cause damage to the muscles, liver, and neurological system.

About 40 percent of rattlesnake bites are serious and 5 percent result in death.

Reduces Crotalid Envenomation

Rattlesnake or crotalid envenomation causes severe swelling where the dog has been bitten. The following serious medical conditions may also happen with rattlesnake envenomation:

  • Uncontrollable Bleeding
  • Drop in Blood Pressure
  • Shock
  • Breathing Paralysis

Attention Dog Owners: If your pup ever has any of the above symptoms, take him/her to the emergency veterinary clinic immediately. Time is of the essence to save your dog’s life.

Vaccine Stimulates Dog’s Immune System

Rattlesnake dog vaccines stimulate the dog’s immune system. The immune system produces antibodies against snake venom. The antibodies can reduce the severity of the reaction your pup would have experienced with the canine rattlesnake vaccine.

According to Ibsen, there are three benefits to the rattlesnake vaccine.

Available for Puppies

Dog owners can start protecting their puppy from venomous snake bites starting at 16 weeks of age.

Shorter Recovery Time

Swelling from venomous snake bites can last days but vaccinated dogs’ swelling can subside in about 20 minutes.

Protection for High-Risk Rattlesnake Areas

Not all pet owners in the United States need to vaccinate their dogs against rattlesnake bites. Only people in high-risk geographical areas where there’s a high population of rattlesnakes, such as Southern California, should seriously consider the vaccination for their dog.

The only states that do not have poisonous snakes are:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Rhode Island

Protects Against Many Types of Rattlesnakes

The rattlesnake vaccine for dogs can protect against the effects of a bite from the following species:

  • Copperheads
  • Western Diamondback
  • Western Rattler
  • Pygmy Rattlers
  • Massasaugas
  • Sidewinders
  • Timber Rattlers

Vaccine Costs Less Than Treatment

The vaccination cost is about $70 per year at most veterinary clinics. A dog’s cost for treatment after a bite can cost thousands of dollars unless dog insurance is used to cover the costs.

Important for Smaller Dogs

Body weight and immune system are two factors that come into play when a dog is bitten by a snake. Smaller dogs with a low body weight may suffer the greatest from the venom, especially ones that have issues with the immune system.

dog vaccine for snakes

The Cons of the Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs

While there are many benefits to the rattlesnake vaccination for dogs, there are some disadvantages to consider before making a decision.

Annual Vaccination

The vaccine needs to be given every year for it to be effective.

Increased Frequency in High-Risk Areas

Dogs living in Southern California and other places where there is a large rattlesnake population may need to be vaccinated every 6 months. Many vet clinics offer a discount for additional vials, especially in high-risk areas.

Does Not Protect Against Other Poisonous Snakes

The rattlesnake vaccine protects against rattlesnakes, which means vaccinated dogs are still at risk of the effects of other types of snakes, such as water moccasins.

Not 100% Effective

Vaccinations are never 100% effective. Whenever your dog is bitten by a snake, you should take your pup to the emergency veterinarian for an assessment. Many vaccinated dogs still need a dose of rattlesnake antivenom after a snake bite.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, “In a published experimental challenge study,100 mice were vaccinated with 50- to 1500-fold (by volume) higher doses of toxoid than recommended in dogs and were subsequently challenged intraperitoneally with high doses (twice the LD50) of venom. This protocol and challenges are of questionable relevance to rattlesnake-bitten dogs. In addition, although vaccinated mice had an increased survival time, a cohort of vaccinees died or required euthanasia earlier than unvaccinated controls following exposure to venom. Similarly, adverse reactions, including anaphylaxis, in previously vaccinated, then envenomated, dogs have been reported.”

Vaccine Cost

Depending on your financial situation, the cost of the vaccine may be difficult to fit into your budget.

Side Effects of the Vaccine

The most common reported side effect of the vaccine is flu-like symptoms. One study reported that 1 in every 3,000 dogs suffered from symptoms much like the flu.

Does Not Protect Against All Rattlesnake Rattlers

The vaccine doesn’t protect against all rattlesnakes. One that the rattlesnake vaccination does not protect against is the Mojave rattler.

Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs: Pros and Cons

Now you know the rattlesnake vaccine for dogs pros and cons. The best way to make a decision is to consider the cons to see if any of them are deal breakers for you. If not, your decision is simple – get the vaccine to protect your dog’s life.

Learn about other vaccines for dogs.

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