Did someone say “SNAKE!!!”?? One of the main reasons I love living in Georgetown is our amazing wildlife population. Snakes are a part of that wonderful ecosystem and we need them. However, that does NOT mean that I want to find one near my family and pets. The truth is the snake does not wish to be around us either, but sometimes we end up with an unexpected encounter.
In our area, the most common venomous snakes are Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, and Water Moccasins. Texas has 10 different species of rattlesnakes alone. The most common venomous snake in Texas is the Western diamondback. The best way to prevent your pet from being bitten by a venomous snake is to make sure your yard is not appealing to the snake. Groundcover, brush, and debris are great hiding places for prey, such as rodents and therefore predators, such as snakes.
There is a vaccination for dogs, against the venom present in all Crotalus species (Rattlesnakes and Copperheads). This should not be confused with a vaccination, such as the Rabies vaccine, which is designed to prevent disease. It does not allow your dog to be best friends with a rattlesnake. It helps to reduce the life-threatening effects of the venom and gives you more time to seek veterinary medical attention.
I have been administering the rattlesnake vaccine to “at-risk” dogs for many years and have seen a big difference in the recovery of those that have been bitten compared to unvaccinated dogs. An “at-risk” dog is one who lives or plays in areas where snakes tend to be. That could be your home, out in the country, a ranch, or farm… but it could also be a subdivision with a field or wooded area nearby. If you’d like to find out more information about the rattlesnake vaccine, and if it’s right for your dog, talk with your veterinary care team.
-Erica Haley, DVM