If you’re like me, summertime offers opportunity to travel and have some fun in the sun – and my dog is going with me. One of our favorite weekend spots is down in Port Lavaca, Texas, where my parents have acres of waterfront property. Sky, my year-and-a-half old husky mix, has been going to the bay with me since she was quite young. However, because the land is mostly undeveloped, much of the wild is at our paws. Birds, fish, turtles, wild boars, and a variety of insects inhabit the area, but the number one concern for me as a dog owner is snakes.
Rattlesnakes (and other poisonous snakes) are the number one threat to domesticated animals at our vacation spot, as “playing” with a rattlesnake can be a deadly mistake. In fact, rattlesnake bites are about 25 times more fatal in dogs than in humans. Not only have we seen numerous snakes in the grass and water, but at night time these reptiles prefer to hang out on the cool concrete – including our driveway. Because keeping the dogs on a leash the entire trip is just not practical, I was at first very nervous to even bring Sky to the land. However, my vet told me about a huge preventative measure I could take.
There is actually a rattlesnake vaccine! This is a round of shots your dog gets BEFORE ever being exposed to a rattlesnake. How does it work? The vaccine stimulates a dog to create his own antibodies to rattlesnake venom that will protect him from bites that happen in the future. The vaccine has been reported to both delay the effects and reduce the severity of rattlesnake bites and help dogs survive and recover more quickly with less pain and swelling. It is likely that many dog owners don’t even notice their vaccinated dogs are bitten by rattlesnakes! Of course, if you are going to let your dog off leash, monitor them and call them away from anything that seems to pique their interest. However, I would strongly recommend the rattlesnake vaccine, as it could save your dog’s life and you a lot of heartache.