Are There Rattlesnake Vaccines for Dogs?

 Did you know that there are rattlesnake venom vaccines for dogs? I was curious, so I did a little research and here’s what I found out.

Are there rattlesnake vaccines for dogs? Rattlesnake venom is 25 times more deadly to dogs than it is to humans. It is recommended for any dog that lives in the American South or Southwest or any animal that may be taking a visit there receive a vaccination. It can be purchased online or in some pet stores, although it is usually not readily available.

A lot of people are curious about the health risks that rattlesnake vaccination can pose to dogs and the effectiveness of the medicine.

While there is some debate, most veterinarians recommend that you have your dog vaccinated.

Let’s take a look at some of the risks posed by rattlesnakes and weigh the usefulness of vaccinations.

Why Vaccination is a Good Idea

No matter how cautious you are, accidents can still happen. Dogs are eager to make friends and can be overly energetic when they get on the hiking trail.

It’s better to be prepared for any contingency rather than rely on luck and pray nothing happens. Vaccinations are a good precaution before setting off on an adventure with your dog.

The idea behind a vaccine is simple. It acts as a security system against a disease for the body.

Imagine that someone is trying to break into your home. Being a trusting person, you leave your door unlocked, have no cameras, and trust that, because it’s a safe neighborhood, nothing is going to happen.

The next time a band of burglars goes pillaging through your block, they are bound to pilfer your house as an easy target.

Now imagine the same scenario, but this time you have a security system. You have surveillance cameras to alert you when your locks are being picked and alarms that call the police when the robbers burst down your door.

Overall, while not invincible, your house is much more able to survive any threat a thief may pose.

The same applies to our dog’s bodies with a vaccination. It gives your dog extra antibodies that help fight the deadly effects of the poison. Imagine how helpful this is, especially to smaller dogs who naturally have fewer antibodies due to their size.

A vaccination against rattlesnake venom could very well save your dog’s life. If bitten, a vaccination could provide the extra strength your dog needs to fight his way to health.

Without it, you are leaving your dog’s safety to chance. As always when it comes to your pet’s health, make sure that your dog is being treated by a licensed vet!

Vets recommend that dogs of every size should be treated every 6 months if they live in areas where rattlesnakes are common.

The Danger of Rattlesnake Bites

We love our canine compatriots like members of our own families, but how much of a threat does a rattler bite pose to a dog? Do rattlesnake bites kill dogs?

Rattlesnake bites can be fatal to dogs, and the risk factor compounds the smaller your dog is. Larger dogs may be able to fend of rattlesnake venom, but a small to medium sized dog is much more likely to die of a rattlesnake bite.

All dogs, even if they don’t die from a bite, may be permanently injured from one. It is not unheard of that dog has a leg amputated due to a bite, or lose an ear or an eye.

Rattlesnakes are dangerous creatures, and the best way to avoid a nasty nip is to be cautious and respectful.

Safety of Vaccinations

Rattlesnake vaccine has been approved by the U.S. government and has already been used to treat thousands of dogs. Veterinary clinics around the country recommend that dogs get vaccinated. Some side-effects have been reported.

According to Methow Valley Veterinary Hospital For about one in every 3000 vaccinations, flu-like symptoms are reported. For fewer than one in 15000 shots, other, miscellaneous symptoms are reported.

Scientists argue the validity of these claims as no solid correlation between the vaccination and these reported symptoms can be established.

About 1% of dogs develop a lump around the injection site that goes away within a few weeks.

Some still argue the safety and efficacy of a rattlesnake vaccination. According to, the vaccine may not be all that effective.

In tests done on mice, the vaccination provided strength against only certain types of venom. On top of that, when it did work, it didn’t always prevent death, and would only slow the process.

Some also wonder how common rattlesnake bites are at all, and thus the need to get one done.

If bitten, a vaccination could provide the extra strength your dog needs to fight his way to health. 

This may be true, but I prefer to err on the side of caution when it comes to the safety of my pets. If you are curious to know if your dog should be vaccinated or not, you can always speak with a veterinarian.

Characteristics of Rattlesnake Vaccine

It may be helpful to know, as to what specific purpose the rattlesnake vaccine was designed.

The vaccine was designed to guard against the venom of western diamondback rattlesnakes, but may also be effective against snakes with similar venoms like the timber rattlesnake, the copperhead, or sidewinder.

The antibodies it may produce will help relieve some of the swelling and pain felt by your dog.

The efficacy of this depends on where your dog was bitten, for what duration, and how much poison was injected into his body. Even if your dog has the vaccine, it is still best to visit a veterinarian if your dog is bitten.

There, those that have received a vaccine usually require much less anti-venom than those who have not been treated. Anti-venom can be expensive and may have more dangerous side-effects than the vaccination.

Related Questions

What is the difference between rattlesnake vaccination and antivenin? The rattlesnake vaccination is a preventative care measure administered before an incident in the hopes of preventing the most dangerous effects of a rattlesnake bite.

Antivenin is used after an attack occurs. Unlike the vaccination, antivenin is usually produced for the aid of cows or sheep and rarely for dogs. Although still safe to use, the vaccination will greatly help.

How much does a vaccination cost? I’ve researched this a bit online and I’ve seen anywhere from $70 to $300 dollars, but I can’t stress this enough. For treatment please go to a licensed veterinarian.

They can help you sort out the specifics of a treatment and will ensure that your dog receives proper care. Don’t assume you know how to do it. There is nothing wrong with asking for a little professional help.  

What should I do if my dog is bitten by a rattlesnake? The best thing to do is to try to get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Do not try to scare away the snake, as it may try to attack you. You can’t help much if you’re full of snake venom.

Can I use a tourniquet on my dog? Don’t use a tourniquet as this may lead to further health problems, and, for heaven’s sake, don’t try to suck out the venom. This isn’t an old western flick.

That doesn’t actually work. Your just wasting time that could be used trying to get to help. Keep your dogs wound below his heart. This will keep the infected blood further from the heart longer.