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April marks the beginning of spring, and with it comes the increased possibility of snake bites to dogs.  At Advanced Veterinary Care (AVC) of San Elijo, we are committed to providing professional vaccination services for your dog.  To promote your pet’s health and well-being, AVC is offering a 50% discount for rattlesnake vaccinations administered in April.

As most San Diego residents know, spring is a wonderful time to take advantage of all the pet-friendly outdoor recreation and hiking areas the county has to offer.  Unfortunately, spring is also the time when the local rattlesnakes become active.  Dogs are especially prone to rattlesnake bites because they are curious; nosing around logs, under rocks, and in holes in the ground.  Dogs may also feel protective of their humans when outdoors and attack the snake in defense of their person.

A rattlesnake's venom is meant to kill its prey.  Most rattlesnakes' venom is hemotoxic, meaning that it disrupts the integrity of the blood vessels, resulting in pain, tissue damage, and internal bleeding.  If the bite is on the throat or face, the resultant swelling can cause death due to airway closure.  Some rattlesnakes have neurotoxic venom, which attacks the nervous system and can result in paralysis and even respiratory failure.  In addition to being potential fatal, a snake bite can be very costly in terms of veterinary care.

The rattlesnake vaccine is designed to help dogs develop antibodies in response to rattlesnake venom in the body.  These antibodies result in less pain and tissue damage in the area of the bite, additional time to get to a veterinary clinic after a bite, and potentially reduce the need for antivenin and other supportive veterinary care.

At AVC, our first line of defense is always prevention.  When you participate in outdoor activities with your dog, keep them on leash and discourage them from exploring heavy brush or wandering too far afield.  Try to hike or exercise during the early morning or evening hours, when snakes are less likely to be active.  And finally, if your dog has potential exposure to rattlesnakes, get your dog vaccinated. You and your dog will be glad you did.

Remember, all snake bites are an emergency, even if your dog has been vaccinated.