Rattlesnake Vaccine FAQ

Q. Which dogs should receive Rattlesnake Vaccine?
A. Any dog over four months of age that is exposed to rattlesnakes whether at home, walking, hiking, camping, hunting, or elsewhere might be a good candidate for rattlesnake vaccine.

Q. How dangerous are rattlesnake bites to dogs?
A. Rattlesnake bites are about 25 times more fatal in dogs than in humans. Even dogs that survive the bite can be permanently damaged..

Q. How safe is rattlesnake vaccine for pets?
A. Rattlesnake vaccine is laboratory tested, government approved, and has been used in over one hundred thousand dogs over many years. Thousands of veterinary clinics nationwide recommend this vaccine for dogs at risk. The side effects are rare and typically very mild. About 1% of dogs may get a temporary lump at the injection site that doesn’t bother the dog and goes away by its self in a few weeks. Temporary flu like symptoms are reported in about one in 3,000 vaccinations and other miscellaneous symptoms are reported in fewer than one in 15,000 vaccinations. These systemic symptoms are rare, and don’t appear to have any pattern, so it is possible that many are coincidental and unrelated to the vaccine use. Even the most severe side effect reasonably attributable to the vaccine is likely to be much easier for a veterinarian to treat than a moderate rattlesnake bite.

Q. How is rattlesnake vaccine different from Antivenin?
A. Rattlesnake vaccine is a preventative medicine whereas antivenin is a treatment for rattlesnake bites. The vaccine stimulates a dog to create his own antibodies to rattlesnake venom that will protect him from bites that happen in the future. Antivenin is antibodies made from another animal (usually a horse or sheep) that are injected into a dog after he is bitten by a venomous snake.

Q. How often should a dog get booster vaccinations, how long does it last?
A. A dog should get at least two doses about 30 days apart in the initial vaccination sequence. If the dog is exposed to rattlesnakes about six months per year, he will only need one booster per year about 30 days before the beginning of that exposure season. If the dog is exposed to much longer rattlesnake seasons or year around risks, he should be given a booster dose every six months.

Q. Should small dogs get this vaccine even if they don’t produce as many total antibodies as large dogs?
A. Yes. A smaller dog is always going to have a harder time fighting off the same amount of venom as a larger dog and will need all the help he can get. The protection that the rattlesnake vaccine gives to a smaller dog may be enough to help save his life or help him recover more quickly.

Q. If a dog is exposed to rattlesnakes from about April through about October, gets his first vaccine shot in July and his second rattlesnake vaccine in August, when should he get his next regular booster?
A. March, or about 30 days before the beginning of his next expected exposure season to rattlesnakes. Protection from vaccination boosters last about six months.

Q. Can a dog receive the vaccine if he has already been bitten by a rattlesnake and had antivenin?
A. Yes. Since there are no horse or sheep protiens in rattlesnake vaccine, there it can be safely used in dogs that have been bitten by rattlesnakes and had antivenin before. Red Rock Biologics recommends waiting at least 30 days after the dog has recovered from any previous snake bite before starting or continuing vaccination.