Jun 17 2014


Rattlesnake Season

Training Class for One Day Only!

Friday, April 20th

Midpines, CA

$75.00 per dog

Erick Briggs from Natural Solutions Wildlife Enterprises will be offering rattlesnake avoidance training for Yosemite area dogs during a one-day clinic on Friday May 20th. Rattlesnake avoidance training exposes dogs to live, intact rattlesnakes in a manner that is safe for both dog and snake. Dogs will learn to avoid the scent, sound and sight of adult and juvenile rattlesnakes that are native to this area.

The training process generally takes 10-15 minutes per dog, depending on the dog and the conditions of the training environment. Each dog is treated as an individual and will be given as much time as he/she needs to reach a comfortable state of mind

For information on the training, see the Natural Solutions website at: http://rattlesnakeavoidance.com

To make an appointment, email: vega@stikine.org


Our hospital recommends that your dog receive the Rattlesnake vaccine every year. The first time your dog receives the vaccine, they will need to receive a booster 4 weeks later. Then every year, only the one vaccine is needed. Rattlesnake season runs April through October, so you will want to vaccinate your dog late spring.


Venomous snakes bite about 150,000 dogs and cats every year. Dogs and cats are about 20 times more likely to be bitten by venomous snakes than people and are about 25 times more likely to die if bitten. A dog or cat is about 300 times more likely to be bitten by a venomous snake than to get rabies. Snake bites are life threatening, extremely painful, expensive to treat, and can cause permanent damage even when the dogs survive.


Initially, a dog should receive two subcutaneous doses about 30 days apart. Dogs over 100 lbs or under 25 lbs may benefit from a three dose initial series. It is best to give vaccination boosters about 30 days before beginning of exposure to rattlesnakes. Protection peaks about 30 to 45 days after boosters and lasts about six months.


Rattlesnake vaccine has been on the market since 2003 and is a standard of veterinary care for dogs at high risk for rattlesnake bites. It is listed in the American Animal Health Association’s 2006 canine vaccination guidelines. It is conditionally licensed by the USDA and is recommended in over 4,000 veterinary hospitals nationwide. It is highly recommended by VPI, the largest pet insurance company in America. Over 500,000 doses have been used in over 100,000 dogs. Antivenin is not contraindicated because the vaccine uses no horse or sheep products.


Adverse events are reported in far fewer than one percent of all vaccinated dogs. Most of these side effects are mild and need no veterinary care. Injection site lumps can be treated with hot moist compresses, antibiotics, and pain relief medication if necessary. Systemic reactions (typically flu like symptoms) are reported in fewer than one in 3,000 vaccinates and usually self-resolve in two to three days.


Reported benefits include delay of onset of symptoms, less severe symptoms, faster recovery times, and lower mortality rates. About 90% of veterinary clinics nationwide report that the vaccine works well or very well, about 5% of clinics report mixed results, about 3% of clinics see no apparent effect and about 2% of clinics are undecided. Though many vaccinated dogs won’t need additional veterinary care, rattlesnake bites can be complex and should still be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately


A vaccinated dog’s resistance to rattlesnake venom can be overcome with enough venom or special circumstances. These circumstances include very small dogs, very large snakes, multiple snake bites to the same dog, or some snake species that the vaccine has little or no protection against.


The vaccine will not protect against coral snakes, cottonmouth snakes, or the Mojave rattlesnake. It has limited protection against the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Red Rock has conducted a survey and received hundreds of rattlesnake bite reports from vet clinics across the country indicating that the vaccine helps protect dogs from many different species and subspecies of rattlesnakes.Snake

As springtime calls people and snakes alike to the outdoors, encounters with snakes become inevitable. California has a variety of snakes, most of which are benign. The exception is California’s only native venomous snake – the rattlesnake.

California rattlesnake species include the northern Pacific rattlesnake (in northern California), and the Western Diamondback, Sidewinder, Speckled rattlesnake, Red Diamond rattlesnake, Southern Pacific, Great Basin rattlesnake and the Mojave rattlesnake (all found in Southern California). Though rattlesnakes are dangerous if provoked, they also provide humans with a tremendous service they eat rodents, other reptiles, and insects, and are in turn eaten by other predators. In California where rattlesnakes are found from sea level to the inland prairies and desert areas and to the mountains at elevations of more than 10,000 feet, enjoying the outdoors means learning how to avoid contact with rattlesnakes.

Generally not aggressive, rattlesnakes strike when threatened or deliberately provoked, but given room they will retreat. Most snake bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone walking or climbing. The majority of snakebites occur on the hands, feet and ankles.

Rattlesnakes can cause serious injury to humans on rare occasions. The California Poison Control Center notes that rattlesnakes account for more than 800 bites each year with one to two deaths. Most bites occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors. About 25 percent of the bites are “dry,” meaning no venom was injected, but the bites still require medical treatment.

The potential of running into a rattlesnake should not deter anyone from venturing outdoors, but there are several precautions that can be taken to lessen the chance of being bitten when out in snake country – which is just about anywhere in California.

Rattlesnake in Motion

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