Questions about the Canine Rattlesnake Vaccine Answered

With winter coming to an end, it’s time to start thinking about what summer brings in certain parts of the country – rattlesnakes! It’s never too early to start planning your dog’s protection against those snakes and we’ve got the answers to some of your most common questions.

Are rattlesnake bites fatal for dogs?
Yes, and rattlesnake bites are about 25 times more fatal in dogs than they are in humans.

What does the rattlesnake vaccine do for dogs?
The vaccine provides dogs with protective antibodies that are reported to help dogs experience less pain and have a reduced risk of permanent injury from a rattlesnake bite.

Which rattlesnake species does the vaccine protect my dog from?
This vaccine is only labeled to protect against the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, but shows significant cross-protection amongst other species across the U.S., including Copperheads and other common rattlesnake species. The vaccine excludes species such as the Eastern and Mojave Diamondback.

When should I get my dog vaccinated?
The rattlesnake vaccine should be given to your dog at the beginning of rattlesnake season each year. One shot is administered, followed by a booster 4 weeks later, then once per year after that. Rattlesnakes begin to emerge from hibernation in March or April, or when temperatures reach about 60 degrees fahrenheit.

If my dog received the rattlesnake vaccine last year, does he/she need the vaccine again?
Yes, your dog needs a booster every year at the start of rattlesnake season. The season varies by state and by year, but you can generally expect to need a vaccine in late winter or early spring.

How old does a dog need to be for the rattlesnake vaccine?
It can be used in puppies as young as 4 months of age.

If my dog receives the rattlesnake vaccine, do I still need to take them to a veterinarian if they are bitten?
YES! Rattlesnake bites are always an emergency, and this vaccine has been shown to reduce or slow down symptoms of a rattlesnake bite, but a dog bitten by a rattlesnake should always be taken to a veterinarian immediately.

Take caution if you live in areas where rattlesnakes are prevalent and don’t put your pet in harm’s way if at all possible. We do not currently offer a rattlesnake vaccine for cats, so keep an extra eye on them in the summer and, just as we suggest with dogs, bring them to a veterinarian immediately if you think they may have been bitten by a rattlesnake.

Read more about rattlesnake vaccines here.

If you have questions about the rattlesnake vaccine feel free to visit our staff at a Community Clinic near you or call our HelpDesk at (800) 427-7973.