It is always rattlesnake season here in South Texas. And some local veterinarians are reminding dog owners to get their animals vaccinated.
Rattlesnakes aren't just dangerous for people; our pets are also at risk.
Most humans know to walk the other way if they hear a rattlesnake's warning rattle, but man's best friend may not.
Charlie has been bitten a few times. When he was a young pup, he was bitten twice by a rattlesnake. If not for the rattlesnake vaccine, Charlie would not be the 5 year old care-free mix black Lab-Basset Hound he is today.
“There's a strong possibility that he might or would have died from being bit so much. Like anybody can imagine the swelling and stuff that goes on with a bite from the rattlesnake and venom and stuff that they secrete,” said Charlie's owner Dean Neslony.
Rattlesnake bites cause serious injury or even death to dogs every year, but there is a way to better your dog's chance of survival.
“Rattlesnake vaccine is important for any pet that has the potential for being bitten by a rattlesnake. We have a lot of neighborhoods that have sort of encroached on their territory, and so we see over a 100 rattlesnake bites a year,” said Dr. Wallace Graham at the VCA Oso Creek Animal Hospital.
The vaccine helps dogs develop antibodies that will neutralize rattlesnake venom if they're bitten.
“In an unvaccinated animal, we give a dose, and a month later we give another dose. Depending on the level of potential exposure, we will give it once a year for those not likely to be exposed very much. The other dogs that are very likely to be exposed, we recommend giving it every 6 months,” said Dr. Graham.
But Dr. Graham does not want dog owners to get a false sense of hope - you still need to bring a vaccinated dog to the vet if bitten.
“If your animal is vaccinated or not and bitten by a rattlesnake, it needs veterinary attention immediately. We still give anti-venom to those dogs that have been bitten if they have been vaccinated or not because that really improves their chance of survival. Immediate attention is what is important,” said Dr. Graham.
The vaccination shots cost $25 - $30 each and depending on the size, some dogs may need 2-3 shots per year. Anti-venom treatments can cost thousands of dollars.
There is no rattlesnake vaccine for humans or cats.
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