Spring is here! Exciting as this may be, it also means the beginning of rattlesnake season in northern California. Dogs are at risk for rattlesnake bites and are about 20 times more likely to be bitten by venomous snakes than people. In addition, dogs are about 25 times more likely to die if bitten. Snake bites are very painful, often life-threatening, expensive to treat, and can cause permanent damage if the dog survives. Most bites are to the head region but are occasionally to the shoulders, legs or thighs. Bites around the head increase the risk of severe complications since the venom are hemotoxic and disrupt blood vessels. The only venomous snake in our area of California is the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake.
Luckily we have a vaccine that helps reduce the severity of the bite. The vaccine works by neutralizing rattlesnake venom but does not totally eliminate the need for treatment. It could, however, save your dog’s life by slowing down the spread of toxin and decreasing swelling and pain associated with the bite. Since its availability in 2003, the Red Rock Biologics rattlesnake vaccine has helped provide protection against venomous snakes and has become the standard of preventive veterinary.