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Rattlesnake Vaccine

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I did a search for this topic but all of the posts I could find on it were ~5 years old, so I was wondering if there was more/new information available on this. We ran into two rattlesnakes laying in the middle of the path the other day when we were out fishing, and told a ranger who happened to be there. He informed me about this vaccine and recommended I get it for my dog Link. We've never run into rattlesnakes before, but we usually go out into the mountains to hike and be outdoors, this place is more local and a lot hotter. I was also planning to go camping this summer with some of my siblings and they live in central Washington, where I know rattlesnakes are common, we live more on the East side of the state, but it can still get hot and we aren't far from desert areas. Anyone have experience with this vaccine? I am not one to over vaccinate, but if it even saves time to get to the vet in case of a bite I'll do it.

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I'm not one to over vaccinate, but I am a firm believer in the rattlesnake vaccine. We have snakes in our area and twice in 6 years we've killed rattlesnakes IN our dog yard. So, we've gotten the shots every year for the past 4 years. In fact, we just got our notice from the vet that it's that time again.

The vaccine is not a cure, it's not a preventative. But if it buys me an extra 20 or 30 minutes to get my dog to the vet, it's well worth the negligible cost. That's what it is to me: insurance to buy my dog a little extra time in the event of an emergency.

So, I'd say do it, if you're at all concerned about snakes. Hope this helps! :)

~ Gloria

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I do know that my daughters botany prof at the uni told the class during an outing that in WA State the rattle snakes are not as poisonous as other parts of the country and you would have about 4 hours to get to a hospital before the venom starts to set in.

 

not sure if that helps or not

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Depending on bite location (on the dog), size of the dog and individual issues a dog may have, it is my understanding that, unless in super highly populated (by snakes) area, it maybe one of those that rarely truly will make that much of a difference.

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I live in Wa state too, their is a beautiful place that would be wonderful to take the dogs however it is said to have rattlesnakes. Have yet to see any there but we just are not about to bring the dogs because we dont want to take that risk and really would not know what to do. I also have to wonder about this I will ask the vet about it

 

 

I was just informed by my daughter that she used to get them for her dog when she lived in Texas, the vet told her that they can get a sterile and be left with a hollow hole in their neck where the shot was inserted, so after that she quit getting him the shots

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I lost a 45 pound border collie male to a cottonmouth bite. The dog bit at the cottonmouth , got struck in the mouth. Husband was right there. Dog died before he could load him in the truck. Cottonmouths are not as poisonous as rattlesnakes and very rarely kill a dog. But it happened. I'd get the vaccine. But that's just me.

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Yes they sure did her vet in Texas told her this very thing! So after that she decided not to get the shots for him any more she said she did not like the thought of an open hole in her dogs neck and I sure can't blame that logic

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After some research I decided to call my vet. They confirmed what I've found: the vaccine is meant to lessen the severity if a bite were to happen, buy time to get the dog to a vet, reduce possibility of permant damage, speed recovery time, and hopefully reduce the liklihood that an anti venom is necessary. My vet highly reccomended it since we are planning to spend a lot of time in rattlesnake territory, some of which is some distance from a vet office. So Link will be getting the vaccine this week, and a booster 3 weeks later (this is when the vaccine is supposed to be most effective), it is supposed to last 6 months, so that will get us through the most active rattlesnake period. Both shots cost a total of $60, not very much for some huge benefits IMO.

 

Lizabeth, I haven't heard anything about this type of reaction to this vaccine. There is a small possibility of a vaccine site developing a lump that should go away with in 3 weeks or so, and an even smaller chance of a more serious reaction where the site can form an abscess and become infected. Basically the normal small chance you run with any vaccine of a reaction happening. But I haven't heard of the type of reaction you're describing, and neither has my vet.

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I was just informed by my daughter that she used to get them for her dog when she lived in Texas, the vet told her that they can get a sterile and be left with a hollow hole in their neck where the shot was inserted, so after that she quit getting him the shots

 

 

What is a sterile?

 

It sounds like they're talking about an abscess at the injection site. I know this, plus swelling and other discomfort are possible with any injection site, but this is the first I've ever heard of abscesses specific to rattlesnake vaccine injections.

 

But I'm way more worried about snake bites than the odd chance of a "hole" at the injection site. I've heard too many stories of how sick dogs can get from a snake bite - and how hideously awful the site of the bite can be, as the tissue goes necrotic. See, the vaccine works by stimulating the dog's body to generate protective antibodies against rattlesnake venom, which in turn helps the dog resist the severity of his body's reaction to a bite. It also works to lessen tissue damage caused by the venom.

 

As I said, I look at is as just buying my dogs a little time. But if it can also aid my dog in resisting some of the severity a snakebite, it's well worth it to me. :)

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

P.S.

I see great minds think alike, vis the post above mine. :P

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as it happens, i'm a herpetologist. i'm not a venom researcher, but i have some familiarity with snake venom and how it works. to me, it does not make sense with what i know of how venoms and immune systems responding to venoms work. i also find it extremely suspicious that the company producing and marketing this substance has apparently not done any studies to support their product. i could not even find any description of what the vaccine actually consists of. it is my opinion that the vaccine is at worst a scam, at best unsupported by any evidence that it works as claimed.

 

also keep in mind that if the "vaccine" contains some substance that is like snake venom, then if you inject it into a dog, you may be sensitizing that dog to venoms. it is very easy for humans that have been exposed to snake venom to develop serious venom allergies. i would guess that dogs may be similar.

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What I was asking, Lizabeth, is a sterile what?

 

Since "sterile" is an adjective, not a noun, and there's no noun that it describes, I'm trying to understand what it is you're saying.

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Sys, I really respect your opinion, especially coming from your background, but I have a hard time believing that countless vets would be offering these vaccines without evidence. I do know that this vaccine doesn't work for people, so if that's what you're basing your opinion on that may be the issue. I haven't found any actual research, but I was only looking for general information about the vaccine. I did read that it shouldn't be used on cats or dogs under 4 months because it hasn't been tested, so there had to be some degree of research involved. Interesting point though, I will see what I can find, and ask my vet about research for this vaccine when we go in this week.

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I do know that my daughters botany prof at the uni told the class during an outing that in WA State the rattle snakes are not as poisonous as other parts of the country and you would have about 4 hours to get to a hospital before the venom starts to set in.

 

not sure if that helps or not

Well, the rattlesnakes in eastern and central WA apparently don't have the neurotoxins in their venom that make some of the rattlesnakes in the southwest US more dangerous. But they can certainly cause some pretty severe swelling, which can result in muscle and nerve damage, and anaphylaxis is always a possibility. The four hour time frame is probably more or less realistic for an adult human that experiences a single bite in an extremity not too close to a major blood vessel. A thirty pound dog bit in the face or neck could be in pretty serious trouble pretty quickly. I don't have any advice on the value of the vaccine, but I'd be pretty cautious about letting my dog sniff under bushes (and sniffing under bushes is a major part of the job description for being a dog) even if the local snakes are not extraordinarily venomous.

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It has been ten years now since I was a vet tech, and the clinic I worked for did not stock this "vaccine" ( urban area) so what I recall may no longer be accurate. I cannot give any references as I'm working on memory here, but this is what I recall.

 

The vaccine was developed at UC Davis utilizing Pacific Diamondback Rattlesnake venom. It's effectiveness on other species of rattlesnake may be questionable. It is not effective on other venomous species snake bites.

 

It effectiveness on Pacific Diamondbacks is not proven. By this, I mean the testing done was not conclusive that is actually helped, but the testing was sufficient to prove it did no harm. I would guess the possibility of injection site reactions deemed within normal limits.

 

If a person has a dog get bitten, and that dog recovers, they praise the vaccine ( if given) for that. Most folks don't realize that not all rattlesnake bites are the same and many times snake will bite with little venom, causing far less damage. Or the bite doesn't quite hit its target, or many other possibilities. Also, not all dogs are the same and some will be less affected by bites.

 

The vaccine was placed in the category of "won't hurt, might help". I will not speculate on why any individual veterinarian may or may not recommend the vaccine, but the actual proof that the vaccine is helping is lacking. Rather, it was years ago when I last looked. Perhaps that has changed since then.

 

It would be great if someone had more up to date information, or better proof of its effectiveness. Perhaps someone has. I haven't looked it up in a while. What I have seen did not impress me. I live in a area with a very high snake population. I do not give my dogs this vaccine.

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Sys, I really respect your opinion, especially coming from your background, but I have a hard time believing that countless vets would be offering these vaccines without evidence. I do know that this vaccine doesn't work for people, so if that's what you're basing your opinion on that may be the issue. I haven't found any actual research, but I was only looking for general information about the vaccine. I did read that it shouldn't be used on cats or dogs under 4 months because it hasn't been tested, so there had to be some degree of research involved. Interesting point though, I will see what I can find, and ask my vet about research for this vaccine when we go in this week.

 

the worry that the vaccine may sensitize dogs to venoms as allergens is idiosyncratic; i have become allergic to rattlesnake venom as have several other individuals i know who have worked with rattlesnakes. there is no doubt that colors my thoughts on the relative risks of exposing dogs to potential allergens. i don't know of any research on whether dogs are likely to develop allergies to venoms or to the vaccine.

 

the lack of research on the efficacy of the vaccine has been noted by a number other sources. i suggest you google for results yourself. i can point you towards statements from the vet schools at uc davis and csu that point out the lack of studies. i'm also linking a study done with horses on the equine vaccine made by the same company. it may require some knowledge of biology to fully understand, but i think it is fairly accessible. i am not aware of any other published research on the action of these vaccines.

 

to be more specific concerning my doubts regarding the efficacy of the vaccines, they are threefold.

 

1. rattlesnake venoms are a cocktail of numerous different proteins. the vaccine is said to be based on neutralized venom. I assume (but don't know, because I can't find that info anywhere) that this is venom in which the proteins have been fragmented by some means. have the fragments been purified? if so, what fragments of what proteins are used in the vaccine? basically the "cleaner" the vaccine, the less likely it is to develop broad spectrum antibodies to a variety of the proteins in venom. the "dirtier" the vaccine, the more likely it is to act as an allergen.

 

2. they say, i believe, that the vaccine provide some benefit for six months. i have a hard time believing that. when they inject horses/sheep to produce antivenins, they are injecting those animals far more regularly (weekly or so). the antibodies produced don't typically last that long in the body. i expect that after a month or two the number of antibodies an animal still has in the body is declining fairly rapidly.

 

3. just because the animal has produced antibodies does not mean that those antibodies are effective in ameliorating the effects of a bite. the number of antibodies available may be too low to be of benefit (i very much suspect this), the antibodies may be ineffective in neutralizing venom or the antibodies may only neutralize some of the proteins, but have no effect on others.

 

at any rate, take a look around and make up your own mind. i chose not to vaccinate my dog, even though i work him in areas with numerous snakes. but as i mentioned, i may be unduly sensitive to the possibility of allergies (and also, as a dog that has been around rattlesnakes for much of his life, he has already been exposed to venoms and may already be sensitized). if you are not as worried as myself about the possibility of allergy sensitization, there isn't much other downside that i can see. just don't depend on the vaccine alone!

 

 

http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vmth/small_animal/internal_medicine/newsletters/vaccination_protocols.cfm

http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/Documents/caring-magazine-2011-spring.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3647753/

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Being from Upper Michigan we never had to worry about such things, now that I am in Wa St. it is something that I do worry about. I have taken my beagle fishing with me on numerous occasions one such fishing day we did see a baby rattlesnake after that I was always trying to stay 4 steps ahead of her as she is old and I fear a bite would not be something she would survive.

 

Part of me thinks its better to have an ounce of prevention just in case it happens and pray it works along with the obvious try to keep the dogs away from them. Fact of the matter is no matter how careful one can be does not stop a rattler from entering your own yard. I know this from living in Yuma Az My daughter has been lucky so far living in Nv, Tx and now Wa her dog has never came across one but never say never it can happen. I will speak to the vet when we go in for Gidget

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"In 2004 an antipit viper venom vaccine was introduced commercially for use in dogs. The manufacturer claims protection against the venom of all North American pit vipers, with the exception of Mojave toxin. The package insert states that vaccination does not preclude the necessity for veterinary intervention. Titers have been followed in dogs but no challenge studies have been performed, most of the evidence for efficacy is based on a small study in mice. There is no published data on what the titers are against and majority of the evidence for its use is anecdotal. The author is aware of multiple vaccinated dogs that have died subsequent to rattlesnake envenomation. There have been no peer reviewed studies of efficacy; additionally there is no published data on exactly with what the dogs are being injected. Until these questions are answered it is difficult to advocate its use." Michael Peterson, Clinical Techniques in Small Animal Practice, 2006. So basically what Sys said.

 

Terrierman, of course, has a take on this too, pretty similar to Peterson's. There may be more recent research which shows it actually does something useful if a dog gets bitten, and if so I'm surprised that it's not linked to the company's website on the FAQ- colour me cynical but if it was my vaccine, and I thought it worked, those studies would be done and published by now.

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lol i tried in an upper post what Kimberlie told me is that it means your dog will have a hole or as she called it a dent that will be there forever. she don't want her dog dented he puts enough dents in his body on his own lol red heeler

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I'm thinking there must be some confusion in the terminology. I can't find any definition of "sterile" that comes anywhere close to that. :huh:

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This is really interesting information to this discussion, I appreciate everyone's contribution. Link did get the rattlesnake vaccine today, and will be boostered in 3 weeks. I talked to my vet about the concerns for lack of evidence, and she said she is going to look into it and give me a call, so I will update on here when that happens. Regardless, it seems that, besides the concerns about allergy sensitization (which I'm not sure are a valid concern since it seems that we do not know how the vaccine reacts in the body), at the worst getting the vaccine would do nothing. Considering a lot of people do this with other vaccines (kennel cough, lepto), I don't really have any problem doing this to potentially help with something as serious as a rattlesnake bite. And that's saying something because I try to vaccinate as little as possible. I guess the encounters with the two rattlesnakes the other day really spooked me. :wacko:

As always, more information or insight is always welcome.

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its an infection with out the bacteria if you google you will find some very gross pics of it leaving a hole

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I'm with GentleLake, as far as I know 'sterile' just means 'without bacteria/germs', or 'totally clean'. Have you a link to explain?

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