In the past two weeks, Swann Animal Clinic alone has treated EIGHT dogs for rattlesnake bites. If your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake, bites can be fatal, especially if left untreated. Your pet’s chances for survival increase if your dogs have been vaccinated for a rattlesnake. The faster you are able to make it to a veterinarian, the quicker treatment can be administered.

Dr. Beau Schilling writes, “We have seen a lot in the past 2 weeks. Keep your dogs on a leash when outdoors, avoid known snake areas, and seek care immediately if a bite occurs. There are vaccines available to reduce sickness that occurs due to snake venom–get these now, BEFORE the bite occurs. Antivenin can also be used in the hospital ASAP if a bite occurs.”

Prevention is Key

Jemma is the most outgoing Dog with a spunky personality. She is always happy and does not know a stranger and has the biggest heart. Everyone absolutely falls in love with Jemma the moment they see her and once they get to know her, they always comment on how sweet she is. She is a “clown dog” if you will, loves to entertain the company when they come over. She is very protective of her family, mostly her mama. Jemma was also bitten by a rattlesnake.

May 11th, 2018 Jemma found herself nose to fang with a slithery foe. Jemma was bitten on her muzzle and rushed to the Small Animal Emergency Clinic where she was initially treated. Jemma was lucky, she received a rattlesnake vaccine about a week prior. Swann Animal Clinic saw Jemma a few days later; she was doing wonderful. Rattlesnake bites often cause the skin to necrose (die). To help prevent infection in these area’s, Jemma was given an antibiotic. Because she was bitten on the muzzle, her nose can be painful so giving medications by mouth can be difficult and painful so we gave antibiotics and pain medications by injection.

Here is what Jemma’s mom said about her situation: “I highly recommend getting the rattlesnake vaccine for your fur babies because it saved Jemma’s life… It helps dogs experience less pain and swelling after being bitten!!! The worst thing is to see your loved one in pain and not be able to take it away or do anything, and that shot helped Jemma to not feel near the pain, she hardly swelled up. I am so very thankful for the vaccine, it is truly a lifesaver.”

How do vaccines work?

The rattlesnake vaccine, produced by Red Rock Biologics, is specifically designed to produce antibodies against the venom of the western diamondback rattlesnake. The vaccine does not protect against the venom of water moccasins or coral snakes. The vaccine works by creating protective antibodies that help neutralize the venom, so dogs experience less pain and swelling after a snake bite. Dogs that are bitten may also require less antivenin, which can be fairly costly and may produce side effects. Factors that can influence the severity of the bite include the location of the bite, the type of snake, and the amount of venom injected.

How often does my dog need the vaccine? 

The vaccine requires an initial injection and a booster 4-6 weeks after. It is then administered yearly thereafter. If your dog is frequently exposed (hunting, running in fields or dense brush, hiking, etc.) we may recommend vaccinating your dog every 6 months instead. Dogs who spend most of their time indoors or in their yards have lower risk, however, if you live with a lot of wide-open spaces around you, especially in areas like Bushland, it is not uncommon to find a rattlesnake in your yard.

What do I do if my dog is bitten?

Bring your dog into your regular day-time veterinary clinic or your closest emergency veterinary hospital. They will help stabilize your dog and discuss their treatment plan. Both Swann Animal Clinic locations are open Monday-Friday 7am to 7pm, our 45th and I-27 Location is open Saturdays from 8am to 5pm.

After hours recommendation:

Small Animal Emergency Clinic

5127 Canyon Dr.

Amarillo, TX 79109


How expensive is the treatment? 

The cost of treating your dog for a rattlesnake bite will vary. Many different factors come into play (age, any chronic illness or diseases, location of the bite, the time between bite and treatment, rattlesnake vaccine status, availability of antivenin, etc.). If you are concerned about how to pay for your pet’s treatment, there are a few things to look into:

  • CareCredit  (6 months interest-free for transactions over $200)
  • Pet Insurance (Most pet insurance works similar to supplemental insurance in people. You pay a monthly fee, pay for your pet’s treatment and your insurance company will reimburse you for what they are willing to cover). This can be a great way to get some money back. Many pet insurances are now offering wellness care coverage as well. Pet Insurance is usually required for 10-30 days before a claim can be filed. Do your research and pick the best company for you and your pet.

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