Meet our buddy "Tank!"
This handsome man was seen for his second rattlesnake vaccine. He lives on acreage in Murrieta and has a high risk of running into a rattlesnake during his daily jaunts on the property. His awesome mom wanted to protect him from a potentially fatal bite, so she had him vaccinated and took him to rattlesnake avoidance training. Since he had never had the vaccine before, he had to have the initial vaccine, and then have it boostered a month later. The days are getting longer and warmer, rattlesnakes are emerging from their dens, thus rattlesnake season has begun.
So, do you know if your dog needs a vaccine? Since we shouldn't over vaccinate our animals, we need to consider if they are at high risk. Do they live on acreage or near hillsides? Even if they live in a tract home, does the home back up to the creek or wooded/brush filled areas? Do they go hiking or camping with the family? Do they live in an area that is a long distance away from a veterinary hospital or emergency clinic? Is there a defined high risk for rattlesnake exposure?
A big misconception about the vaccine is that it will protect the dog from any bite, and the dog will not require veterinary treatment. Not true at all! What the vaccine does is buy you time to get your dog to the vet for emergency care. It may lessen the severity of the venom and as a result there may be less pain, swelling, tissue damage, clotting issues and organ involvement. The dog also may not require as much antivenin. Sounds good, but all of this is influenced by other things such as the dog's age, health, breed, location of the bite, how much venom was injected, how much time elapsed between bite and treatment, and how much physical activity between bite and treatment.
We really hope Mr. Tank avoids any rattlesnake that he may encounter, but if he should get bitten, we are happy to know that he has a little back up protection from the vaccine until help arrives! Happy trails Tank!