Rattlesnake Vaccine For Pets

By Som Lisaius , KOLD News 13

It literally happens that fast. One moment you and your dog are enjoying a walk together. The next, the two of you are on the way to emergency room. Every year, hundreds of dogs are bitten by rattlesnakes in Southern Arizona. Usually the bites are not fatal. But they're almost always serious.

"They're out there and they're extremely dangerous," says Jill Wohlfeil of the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. "There can be resulting tissue, permanent tissue damage or death...depending on the amount of venom--and the size of the animal."

So what can you do to protect your four legged friends? Perhaps the new Red Rock Rattlesnake Vaccine is the answer.

"What it does it is gives the pet owner...a little margin of extra safety." Dr. Gregory Lee is a Veterinarian at Northwest Pet Clinic, one of a handful of local facilities offering the new, yet somewhat controversial vaccine for rattlesnake bites. "It decreases the tendency for tissue destruction, tissue sluffing--and it provides a little extra time for extra treatment," Dr. Lee says.

Wohlfeil, however, isn't so sure. "Not all vaccines are one hundred percent effective--not even for humans," she says, adding--without more data--she does not support the idea of vaccination over aversion.

That's why she recommends classes where your dog can learn to avoid rattlesnakes in the first place. "We use an electronic collar so if the animal gets close to the snake...then it receives a mild shock and learns to make the association between the snake and staying away from it."

Dr. Lee agrees... But insists accidents do happen. And this vaccine could mean the difference between life and death if your pet finds itself at the wrong end of an angry rattler. "It's already been proven to do so," Dr Lee says. "It saves lives." So then you recommend and endorse the vaccine fully? "Certainly."

Bottom line, nothing is 100 percent foolproof in protecting your pet against rattlesnakes. Guess you could say that's one of the hazards of living in the southwest. But with this vaccine and you being a responsible owner the desert can be a little less hazardous both for you and your pet.

Rattlesnake vaccines cost about 20 dollars and need to boostered after the first month--then again every four to six months after that. Even with the vaccine...if bitten by a rattlesnake, your pet needs to brought in for immediate care. Rattlesnake vaccines cost about 20 dollars...and need to boostered after the first month--then again every four to six months after that. Even with the vaccine...if bitten by a rattlesnake, your pet needs to brought in for immediate care.