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How Effective is Rattlesnake Vaccine?

Q: We go hiking in the local mountains with my dog. Should I get the rattlesnake vaccine?

A: This is a good question as we enter the rattlesnake season. We saw our first dog rattlesnake bite this year in mid-March.

The rattlesnake vaccine is controversial. It has only been tested in mice. There isn’t any published data supporting the efficacy in dogs. Some veterinarians suggest that it may help delay some of actions of the venomous poisons.


A study that was published by ER veterinarians at Animal Specialty Emergency Center showed that vaccinated dogs did not have a higher survival rate than non-vaccinated dogs.


The bottom line is that there is no measurable benefit to the rattlesnake vaccine in dogs. Interestingly, there are no venomous vaccines used or approved for humans.


Prevention is ideal. If you walk dogs in the mountains, keep them on a leash and on the trail. Preferably hike on a wide trail like a fire road. Know where your closest veterinarian is located, so that in case of a bite, they can start fluid therapy and antivenin in a timely fashion. Aversive training may be of some benefit.

By Dr. Frank Lavac, MS, DVM

If you have any questions, you can contact Dr. Lavac at 310-828-4587.

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