Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs Now Available

Animal Clinic of Woodruff is now carrying the Crotalus Atrox Toxoid (or rattlesnake vaccine for dogs). Read below to see if you should consider getting this potentially life-saving vaccine for your dog.

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What is a rattlesnake vaccine?

The Cortalus Atrox Toxoid, or “rattlesnake vaccine,” provides dogs with some protection against some types of snake bites. It was developed by Red Rocks Biologics to provide protection against Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, but it may provide cross protection from other types of rattlesnakes and related venomous snakes, such as Copperheads.

The vaccine works by helping dogs develop antibodies to some snakes’ venom. These antibodies then help a bitten dog to experience less pain, swelling and tissue damage, give the owner more time to get to a veterinarian, and potentially require less antivenin or other medications. Depending on the size of the dog, the age and type of snake, and where the dog is bitten, the vaccine can help mitigate the effects of snakebites and speed up recovery.

Importantly, though, it does not mean veterinary care is not required after a snake bite, and it does not protect against all snake bites. Rattlesnake bites are extremely serious, and dogs can easily die from them, so you should always see a veterinarian immediately if your dog gets or you suspect a venomous snake bite.

Does my dog need the rattlesnake vaccine?

We call Cortalus Atrox Toxoid a “lifestyle vaccine” because not every dog needs it, only those with certain lifestyles, access and temperaments. Outdoor, sporting breeds who wander far off trails would be good candidates. Also, we recommend the vaccine to any dogs that travel to areas with known rattlesnake populations (read more on this below).

Unfortunately, the vaccine offers no protection against Coral, Cottonmouth, or Mojave bites (but luckily none of these are found in Upstate S.C.).

Where is my dog most at risk for snake bites?

The Eastern Diamondback, Timber and Pigmy rattlesnakes are all found in South Carolina. The Timber and Pigmy’s habitat extends across the entire state, while the Eastern Diamondback is confined to the Lowcountry (at least for now). Find more information about the location of South Carolina’s venomous snakes at this DNR page.

I want to protect my dog from snake bites. What do I do now?

The best way to protect your dog is to make an appointment at Animal Clinic of Woodruff to see a doctor and ensure your dog is a good candidate for the vaccine. You should also always make smart choices about going outdoors with your dog, such as staying on trails; not letting your dog explore holes, crevasses, or areas where snakes tend to be; and carrying the phone number of a vet and an emergency vet with you at all times.

Please remember that the snake vaccine does not offer 100% protection from snakebites. Always visit a veterinarian immediately for treatment if your dog is bitten by a snake.

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