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Should you consider the rattlesnake vaccine for dogs?
I’ve lived in Austin more than 11 years and while I have yet to see a rattlesnake, I have heard plenty of horror stories about dogs being bitten and the ensuing expense of treatment, which can cost upwards of $2000. The rattlesnake vaccine for dogs, however, is only about $25 per shot.
The booster shots are critical
After the initial rattlesnake vaccine, your dog needs a booster in 30 days and then a booster every six months. The continuity of the boosters is critical to the vaccine being effective. The vaccine was developed based on the observation that animals who survived rattlesnake bites were known to develop immunity to the venom.
It doesn’t work for all types of venomous snakes
The vaccine was developed to protect against the venom from the western diamondback rattlesnake, but it offers only limited protection from the venom of other venomous snakes, such as the copperhead. And the vaccine offers no protection against the venom from a cottonmouth.
This is not anti-venom
It is important to note that the rattlesnake vaccine for dogs is not anti-venom and it’s absolutely useless in the treatment of a rattlesnake bite. Rather, this is a vaccine that helps to minimize the effects of a rattlesnake bite and allow you more time to get medical attention. Essentially, you are increasing the chances that your dog will survive a rattlesnake bite and have less tissue and organ damage.
Explore snake-avoidance training
Consider some of the training classes that teach your dog how to avoid snakes. Dogadillo in the Hill Country Galleria (in Bee Cave, Texas) has hosted a few snake avoidance classes. In the class, your dog is taught to avoid a live snake (which has had its venom sack removed).
Is the rattlesnake vaccine for dogs right for you?
We take our dogs on long hikes on a nearby greenbelt, much of which is wilderness area. Our dogs are large, and if they were bitten, it would be a long and difficult hike back to the car, and then even further to the vet. All that means that we are a good candidate for choosing the vaccines. Our dogs might not ever encounter a venomous snake, but the vaccine is good to have, just in case.