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Rattlesnake Bite and Rattlesnake Vaccine FAQ

 /  / Rattlesnake Bite and Rattlesnake Vaccine FAQ

Rattlesnake vaccines are vital for dogs in Albuquerque and all of New Mexico. New Mexico is a rattlesnake state. We have some of the highest rates of rattlesnake bites in the country. People and animals are bitten both in the city and in rural areas. It is highly recommended that you vaccinate your dog to help protect against the effects of a rattlesnake bite. The rattlesnake vaccination is only meant for dogs. If your dog has been bitten, call your vet immediately, even if they have the vaccine. Your vet will need to determine the severity of the bite, but no matter what, a snakebite is always serious.

Bring your dog into our shot clinic to get your rattlesnake vaccine.
Snakes in New Mexico
Does my dog need the rattlesnake vaccine?

For pets in New Mexico, we highly recommend it. Rattlesnakes are even found in the city of Albuquerque, so it is not just our country pets that need to be concerned.  Every year we hear reports of dogs being bitten. A rattlesnake bite can be life-threatening. The vaccination can help save your dog’s life.

How long does the vaccine last?

The vaccines last for 6 months to a year. The most effective period for the vaccination is the first 4-6 weeks. The vaccine loses its effectiveness slowly over time. On average a dog will receive good protection for 6 months. If you live in an area that has rattlesnakes year-round, it is recommended to get your vaccination twice a year.

How old does my puppy need to be to be vaccinated?

A puppy as young as 4 months old can be vaccinated.

Can older dogs get the vaccine?

Yes. If your older dog is healthy, the vaccination should be no problem. If you are not sure, consult with your vet.

Are there any side effects?

Side effects are typically few and mild.  There can be mild swelling at the injection site which usually resolves without treatment. Rare side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy.  If you are concerned about any side effects your dog may be experiencing, please call your vet.

If my dog has already been bitten by a rattlesnake can she still get the vaccine?

Yes. It is best to wait 6 weeks after your dog has been bitten before vaccinating. This will give her time to fully recover.

Are some rattlesnake bites worse than others?

Yes. There are many factors involved in determining the severity. These include the age of the snake, species, the amount of venom injected, the location of the bite, the dog’s personal antibody response to the vaccination, and the length of time since the vaccine was administered. This is why it is important to get your dog to the vet immediately regardless of the apparent severity of the bite.

What types of snakes does this protect against?

The vaccination protects against Western Diamondback Rattlesnake venom. Many other snakes have venom with a similar composition such as Sidewinder, Timber Rattlesnake, Massasauga, Copperhead and partial protection may be obtained against Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake venom. This vaccine does not provide protection against venom from the Water Moccasin (Cottonmouth), Mojave Rattlesnake, or Coral Snake.

When is the best time to get the vaccine?

We recommend getting it about 1 month prior to the start of rattlesnake season.  We recommend getting your vaccination by May.

How do I know if I should get 1, 2, or 3 vaccines per year?

The higher risk of exposure to rattlesnakes is the determining factor on how many vaccines you should get. We suggest speaking with the vet about a good schedule for your dog based on your lifestyle and risk of exposure. Most pets will not need 3 vaccines every year. But if you are someone who camps a lot year-round, you might want to consider the increased frequency.

How safe is this vaccine?

The vaccine is very safe. It is safe for use in pregnant and lactating dogs, puppies as young as 4 months, and healthy older dogs.

What do I do if my vaccinated dog has been bitten by a rattle snake?

Even with vaccination, a snakebit is always an emergency.  If your dog is bitten, you need to take them to a veterinarian immediately. Your vet will recommend the appropriate course of action which may include anti-venom treatment or antibiotics. Remember that even non-venomous snake bites can be dangerous.

How well does the vaccination work?

The vaccine generates protective antibodies against rattlesnake venom. These work by neutralizing the rattlesnake venom. Dogs who received the vaccine are shown to have less pain after a bite and a reduced risk of permanent damage resulting from the venom.  It has been reported that vaccinated dogs have less swelling,  less tissue damage, and faster recovery from snakebite than unvaccinated dogs.