Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Rattlesnake Vaccines Could Protect Your Pet This Summer
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This bull snake, found sunning itself on a trail out Rock Creek west of Hailey last week, is often mistaken for a rattlesnake but it lacks the rates—and the poisonous venom.
   
Thursday, June 10, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Got your vaccine? Now you can get one for Fido, as well.

No, the Centers for Disease Control hasn’t approved COVID vaccines for pets. But Mountain Humane is offering rattlesnake vaccines for dogs who are likely to hit the trails during the summer ahead.

The vaccinations are $25 with an appointment, available at 208-806-0739. The first year a dog receives the rattlesnake vaccine, they will need a booster four weeks later. Every year after, they will only need one booster vaccination per year.

Local veterinarians, including St Francis Pet Clinic, Sun Valley Animal Center, and Sawtooth Animal Center, also offer the vaccine.

During spring, rattlesnakes are most likely to be spotted sunbathing early in the day on south-facing aspects, said Heidi Hayes, marketing manager of Mountain Humane. Most are spotted in Croy or Quigley Canyons, but there have been reports of rattlers in Woodside, Cutters and near East Fork Canyon and Greenhorn Gulch, as well.

 Rattlesnakes will actively avoid an encounter. But when provoked their bites can have serious consequences with venom spreading quicker the closer the bite is to the heart. The best strategy is avoidance. If possible, hike north of East Fork. If that is not an option, try to hit the trails at a cooler time of day or in a shadier area. Another effective strategy is to walk your dog on a leash so that they don’t inadvertently instigate an encounter.

Lastly, rattlesnake avoidance training classes can be tremendously effective.  

A dog that’s been bitten may exhibit sudden weakness, perhaps even collapsing. It may tremble or shake, throw up or have diarrhea and exhibit unsteadiness in its hind legs. It may drool or froth at the mouth, show bloody urine, dilated pupils or even become paralyzed.

Even if your dog has received the rattlesnake vaccine, they will still need to receive veterinary care as soon as possible if bitten, said Hayes.  Keep a dog that’s been bitten as calm as possible and prevent any extra physical activity until you have arrived at a veterinary clinic. 

While dogs can die from a snake bite, an estimated 80 percent survive if treated quickly.

Dogs that have been vaccinated usually need only minimal supportive care, pain control and a few hours of observation in the clinic. Without the rattlesnake vaccine, dogs may require expensive antivenin and hospitalization.

 

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