Rattlesnake Bites – To Vaccinate, or Not

       I recently purchased a 7 month old Scottish Terrier puppy from South California and in reviewing the health records I saw my puppy had received a rattlesnake vaccination. Knowing little about the vaccination I decided to do some quick research about the vaccination. Regardless of the breed of dog, knowing about the risks can make a difference.
     What is the vaccination? The vaccination is an injectable vaccine, first developed by Red Rock Biologics, a company located near Sacramento, California. This vaccination is specific to a common rattlesnake found in the California, the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. (Red Rock Biologics Rattlesnake Vaccines, 2016)
     What is risk and should you consider this vaccination? Like any vaccination there are pros and cons and you discuss the risk with your veterinarian. Some quick background information may helpful in considering this vaccination. A first consideration is your location and the likelihood you may encounter a poisonous snake. Just like giving my Scotties their heartworm pill, it is yet another medication I worry about and why give you dog a medication when the risk is low. In my breeder’s case, they lived in an area where rattlesnakes are commonly found amongst urban living. My puppy’s breeder happens to live in the foothills of South California, and their property was in a semi-rural environment. As a result all six puppies in the litter and all the adult dogs have all been vaccinated.
According the Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), a Nationwide Insurance company states that “approximately 300,000 dogs and cats are bitten annually in the United States from venomous snakes.” (Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs, 2016) While the statistic may sound alarming, your decision should factor in risks. Pet owners face a long list of potential threats, and this is one more to add to the list.
     Are the Vaccinations Safe, Side-Effects and are they Effective? This depends on who you ask. The vaccination has been United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) since October, 2004, and in use in California since July 2003. Dosage may vary as directed by your veterinarian, but according the manufacturer of the vaccine; “the first time your dog is vaccinated, we recommend an initial vaccine injection followed by a booster dose about one month later. We recommend then boostering each subsequent year.” (Red Rock Biologics Rattlesnake Vaccines, 2016).
UC Davis describes the side effects as minimal and flu-like if they occur at all, but if you are concerned, read the short article used in this summary. The recommend (UCDAVIS Veterinary Medicine, 2016)
     What is the cost of vaccination? The vaccination costs will vary from $20.00 to $40.00 per injection according the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine. (UCDAVIS Veterinary Medicine, 2016)More Information? The websites used in this summary provide additional information, some in easy to read, frequently asked question format that provides further information, and the UC Davis site does address some health concerns and provides a more of objective overall view of the subject.
     Works Cited:
Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs. (2016, July 10). Retrieved July 10, 2016, from What Pet Ownders Should Know: http://www.petinsurance.com/healthzone/pet-articles/pet-health/Rattlesnake-Vaccine-for-Dogs.aspx

Red Rock Biologics Rattlesnake Vaccines. (2016, July 10th). Retrieved July 10, 2016, from Frequently Asked Questions: http://www.redrockbiologics.com/rattlesnake_vaccine_faq.php

UCDAVIS Veterinary Medicine. (2016, July 10). Retrieved July 10`, 2016, from Avoic Snakebite dueing Summer Pet Outings: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/whatsnew/article.cfm?id=1883

Many thanks to  SFBSTC member Jim Nolte for sharing this information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *