Jun 8, 2014 12:22 AM by Kelsey Kennedy
Rattlesnakes are very common in Southern Colorado, but the rattlesnake vaccination for dogs is not. Perhaps because many pet owners aren't aware it exists.
"I've seen the signs warning me, I just didn't realize there was anything I could do," says pet owner Nina Miller.
While not reccommended for every dog, the vaccine can be beneficial if your dog is often exposed to the possibility of a snake bite. Dr. Lee Wilwerding's office treats multiple snake bites each year.
"Dogs off leash tend to be the ones that get bit more, because they're out in front leading the way, and they're curious," he says.
Most snake bites land on a dogs nose, head, or neck. The venom causes the destruction of tissue, which could turn into the loss of a limb, even your pet's life.
That doesn't mean the vaccine doesn't come without risks. An active dose of venom can cause a reaction.
"Just like any other vaccine, you want to get a high enough anti-body level that should they become exposed to an actual bite, it will help reduce the problems that will occur," Dr. Wilwerding says.
The vaccine is reported to reduce the pain and swelling, even delay the onset of those symptoms, buying you time to get to the vet to administer anti-venom.
Its impossible to tell how much venom is in a bite, but assume the worst and get straight to a vet.
"Young snakes this time of year, they look small, but they can actually give a much larger volume of venom in their bite than the large snakes do."
Dr. Wilwerding says using a long leash will give your pet freedom and allow you to help them stay out of danger.