Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

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azbackpackr
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Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by azbackpackr » Mar 27 2010 5:42 am

Yes, it really exists:

http://www.agiltracs.org/snakebite_article.pdf

From the article:

"What is Rattlesnake Vaccine?
Crotalus Atrox Toxiod is made using Western Diamondback rattlesnake venom. After vaccination a dog
produces antibodies that will begin neutralizing rattlesnake venom immediately if the dog is bit. Antibody
levels in a recently vaccinated dog are comparable to up to three vials of antivenin. Antivenin costs $500
per vial and is in increasingly short supply. The vaccine costs from $18 to $25 per shot. For dogs under
100 pounds, two initial shots one month apart and an annual booster a month before rattlesnake season
begins are required—a third initial shot is given to larger dogs.
The Hollister Veterinary Clinic estimates that treatment of a vaccinated dog that has been bit by a
rattlesnake will be around $400. Treatment of an unvaccinated dog that is bit by a rattlesnake will cost
$1500 to $2000 or more depending on how many vials of antivenin are required. More importantly to
many dog lovers, a vaccinated dog will experience less pain and will be at less risk of permanent injury.
Typical treatment for rattlesnake bite
Dogs that have not been vaccinated are given from
one to several vials of antivenin, plus steroid
shots to reduce swelling, and antibiotics to
prevent infection.
Dogs that have been vaccinated are treated with
steroid shots and antibiotics only—and in some
cases, antibiotics only."
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TwoWeims
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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by TwoWeims » Mar 27 2010 8:06 am

Interesting information, thanks. I have seen the brochures around and was going to look into it.

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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by Sun_Ray » Mar 27 2010 11:22 am

Both my dogs have received this vaccine. No noticeable ill effects. They have also both been 'rattlesnake trained' with a shock collar. I think it's good insurance against the high cost of the antivenin.
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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by PaleoRob » Mar 27 2010 11:42 am

Yeah, we've looked at doing this for the last couple of years. Seems like a good thing. Supposed to get vaccinated in spring, our vet said.
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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by Al_HikesAZ » Mar 27 2010 11:56 am

KOLD had a great story on Rattlesnake Avoidance Training
http://www.kold.com/Global/story.asp?S=5334689
By J.D. Wallace, KOLD News 13 Reporter

The sound of a rattlesnake's rattle, a warning hard to ignore, is one most of our four legged friends don't understand.  Bill Tiley's scotty dog, McGregor, learned the hard way.

"The snake stood its ground and McGregor went and investigated, and he came off the loser," Tiley said.

"To treat can be very expensive, especially the small breed dogs like Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, and those can have a much more difficult time with venemous bites, and it can require intensive care and it can cost thousands of dollars to heal a rattlesnake bite in a dog," said Kartner Neal, DVM, with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

Neal should know.  As a veterinarian, she's seen numerous rattlesnake bites on dogs and cats.
"Snakes have very dirty mouths.  They have a lot of bacteria, so oftentimes, you can treat the original bite, but in the long run, you'll have an infected wound," Neal said.

But there's hope for dogs at least—rattlesnake avoidance training.  Steve Buhrke has been doing it for years.
"For most dogs it only takes two or three minutes.  The longest part of the training actually is getting the dogs to focus in on the snake for the first time," Buhrke said.

The dog, like a beagle named Baxter, must first be wearing a remote control electric collar.  With two de-fanged diamondbacks and a fanged mojave in a cage, Buhrke makes sure Baxter is looking at each snake, before he buzzes the dog.
"It's not going to burn them, it's not going to give them a heart attack, a seizure or anything like that.  It's harmless, it's just something that tells them, you know, 'ah!'" Buhrke said.

By mildly shocking the dog, it associates that pain with the sight, smell, and sound of a rattlesnake, training it to avoid them.
"I don't want them to key in on the sound on at least one snake.  I want them to find him by the smell, and by the shape of the snake and everything," Buhrke said.

That's why one snake's rattle is covered.  Tiley brought four scotty dogs to Buhrke's Pet Resort.  Piper, one of the scotties, was the only one never before trained to avoid rattlesnakes.  The other three still avoided them.
"Yeah, that's a good sign, yeah, that's what we want to see him do.  He's not trying to get near it," Buhrke said as they tested one of the trained dogs.

Tiley wanted to make sure, since the three trained dogs attacked a king snake.  But that non-poisonous snake smells different than rattlers, so it appeared that the dogs still knew what they were doing.

"I'm happy that they're still well trained.  It's been a little over a year since they were trained," Tiley said.
Others brought their dogs, from the Nolans' terrier mix named Snickers, to the Kurowskis' shihtzu named Oreo Kooky.
"I just wanted to make sure that she didn't think a snake was a friend, 'cause you never know where they could be.  They could be under our shrubs," Marje Kurowski said.

"We feel this training is very good, and she has reacted positively to it," Donald Nolan said.

"In this area, I definitely recommend that dogs receive training to avoid rattlesnakes, and then also talk to your veterinarian about the new rattlesnake vaccine that's available," Dr. Neal said.

Some dogs will react more severely to the shock than others, which can be hard to watch, but a small price to pay, in more ways than one.  Buhrke charges $50 per dog in his groups, the Humane Society will charge $65, all compared to possibly thousands if a rattler strikes.

"If we don't teach them to stay away from the snake, then they can get killed by it.  And so, a hundredth of a second of pain is worth the dog's life," Buhrke said.

The kind of training Tiley's scottys seemed to remember.

Burhke's Pet Resort offers groups on Wednesday at 6pm and Saturday at 10am and charges $50 per dog. Call 235-3765 for reservations.
Humane Society of Southern Arizona charges $65 per dog.
Call the Companions for Life Center at 795-6181 for information.
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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by JimmyLyding » Mar 27 2010 6:35 pm

Don't forget that most dogs will need occasional follow-up shock training.
My mom's female labrador went through the training, and didn't have a problem for the first year w/ a buzzworm in the Phx Mtn Preserves. She went back for her follow-up, and had to be dragged from the car because she knew what was coming. The shock training obviously worked on her.
My brother's dog (Odin of the Hate Crew) allegedly went through the training. On the Drew Trail we knew a rattler was in a certain spot thanks to some nice folks coming the other way. We got there, I took a bunch of pictures http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=98536 and then I grabbed Odin by his collar to take him around the snake (my brother left the leashes in the car....). I slipped, almost fell on my face, and inadvertently let go of Odin. Odin ran right at the snake, and went right over it. Luckily he wasn't bit, but it was obvious that Odin needed a refresher.

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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by BrettVet » Mar 30 2010 2:32 pm

Sorry for being a behind the scenes lurker and only an occasional poster. I hike, backpack and ride mules on lots of trails and use this website as a great recourse for adventures.

I have to comment on the “Rattlesnake Vaccine” as I am a practicing veterinarian, board certified and acted as the advisor to the veterinarian that has written all the textbooks and articles concerning rattlesnakes.

Vaccination sounds like a simple solution to a very complex problem. It is not.
A snakebite is a very complex problem with lots of variables. Lots of things determine the amount and quality of venom the snake releases with each bite. The size of the snake, the species (Mohave are the worst) whether the snake has recently eaten and used his venom. Is it an early spring bite or a very young snake which makes the venom more potent?. Lastly is it a defensive warning bite or a full on aggressive bite. That said there is no way of knowing if the vaccine worked or it was just the luck of the dog getting a dry bite from a snake that had just eaten. Bottom line there has been no scientific, peer reviewed studies that show that this vaccine works any better than a placebo. The only research that is provided by the manufacturer is all anecdotal stories about how well it worked. Warm and fuzzy, but not science. It is not FDA approved and all the veterinary organizations do not recommend its use.

Even with vaccine. The manufacture recommends seeing a veterinarian after a bite and the administration of anti venom. The best thing you can do for your dog after a bite is use your car keys and get to a veterinarian and allow antivenin use. It’s proven science that the survival rate is much higher, both for you and your dog if anti venom is used. Forget all the tourniquets, cutting and sucking that you learned in Boy Scouts, it does more harm than good.

The worst thing about the vaccine is that it gives a pet owner a false sense of security and delays medical attention.

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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by azbackpackr » Mar 30 2010 4:55 pm

Thanks for this info.

I hope some real scientific studies are underway?

Incidentally, cut-and-suck treatment has not been taught by Boy Scouts or any other reputable first aid instructors for at least 20 years. Of course, human nature being what it is, you will still find people carrying those things.
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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by chumley » Mar 30 2010 7:09 pm

azbackpackr wrote:Incidentally, cut-and-suck treatment has not been taught by Boy Scouts or any other reputable first aid instructors for at least 20 years. Of course, human nature being what it is, you will still find people carrying those things.
I don't think that there's many people who were ever taught this method. More likely "learned" from Hollywood. There are actually products sold at reputable shops such as REI that go against common medical conventions but there's a profitable market for them because of what people think they should do!
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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by azbackpackr » Mar 31 2010 4:35 am

I am not sure about that. I do remember having one of those things when I lived in California, but I left there in '78. I lived in Hawaii, where there are no snakes. Then in '86 we moved to AZ. I remember my husband buying one of those things, since we didn't know any better, but as soon as my son joined Boy Scouts in '92 I heard they were considered bad news.

I have often thought if I were teaching a wilderness first aid class that a memorable teaching tool might be to have a big trash can up front with me and then tell them about treating snake bite, bring out the kit and show it, explain its dangers, and then ceremoniously toss it into the trash can. "There is only one good place for this kit to be, and it's NOT in your backpack...!" Thunk!

In order to start on the path of becoming a WFR instructor, I am going to have to take the EMT class, though. And I won't have time for that class for at least another couple of years.
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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by writelots » Mar 31 2010 9:39 am

Thanks, Brett, for clearing that one up. I've been considering it for a while, but was not sure that the idea of a "vaccine" against rattlesnake bites was logical. My trail dog seems terrified of all manner of creepy-crawlies, however she gets much braver when there are other dogs around to goad her into pack mentality.

Incidentally, my grandparents both lived in Arizona all their lives, they always had dogs, and those dogs occasionally were bitten by rattlers. According to them, the only dog who ever had permanent damage was a puppy, and he had a bum leg for the rest of his life because of the infection (and you gotta know that my grandpa wasn't driving 50 miles across the desert to Casa Grande for a vet). They just kept the dog quiet and still and waited for the effects to wear off. I am definitely not advocating for NOT going to the vet - just trying to offer up a less-pessimistic perspective. Usually, larger dogs will be sick for a while, but will recover and will have learned a very valuable lesson.
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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by azbackpackr » Apr 01 2010 10:05 am

My brother in Idaho sent me the original info which I posted. So, yesterday I sent him Brett's info but my brother emailed back and said he prefers a placebo to nothing at all. I guess he likes to spend money on his dog. :?
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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by BrettVet » Apr 02 2010 10:18 am

Dogs like people can survive a rattlesnake bite without treatment. Plenty of cowboys bit on a bullet for pain and sucked down some whiskey and did just fine. Some ended up under a pile of rocks with a cross out in the desert somewhere. Rattlesnake bites ,as I said ,are very variable in the damage caused by bites and 25% of them are “dry” bites. In other words, just a warning shot, so you will back off. Snakes like to save their venom for dinner bites because it’s all about survival.

In treating dogs for snakebite you have several option from doing nothing to the all out care involving antivenin. Unfortunately a lot of decisions are made on cost of care. Antivenin is not cheap. We give it at our cost which is usually somewhere between 500 and 700 a vial. The human line has just become genetically engineered , so we have a hard time getting the veterinary antivenin and are forced to use human stuff.

We did a study about 10 years ago of 100 dogs bitten by snakes looking at survival, time of hospitalization and permanent damage. The ones that got antivenin did the best by far . The next set got only antibiotic s and fluids and did pretty good , the next set in line did nothing and the recovery rate was slower and death rate was much higher .Ironically the worst group was treated with steroids and DMSO. The moral of the story is , do not allow your vet to give steroids to a snakebite. Nothing would be better.
It is now considered malpractice in human medicine to give steroid to a snakebite.

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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by azbackpackr » Apr 03 2010 8:54 am

A friend of mine was bitten by a Mojave rattler on the Ventana Canyon Trail almost 20 years ago. She said there was no way she could have walked out of there, due to the fact that almost immediately she had severe neurological reactions. She said it took forever--5 or 6 hours or something like that--for the helicopter to get there and get her out of there (when I hear these stories I always wonder why on-foot backboard transport can potentially be quicker than the copter, but it is often true). She said it took several months to completely recover from it.

She still hikes the Ventana Canyon Trail. She is very careful, she says, and she does remember exactly where it happened!

Brett, have you heard any of the latest stories that rattlesnake venom is becoming more poisonous, more neurotoxic? I am curious if this is true, if venoms are being tested, etc.
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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by BrettVet » Apr 03 2010 4:04 pm

Brett, have you heard any of the latest stories that rattlesnake venom is becoming more poisonous, more neurotoxic? I am curious if this is true, if venoms are being tested, etc
Venom toxicity can be very variable. Young snakes have a more potent venom than older ones, snakes just out of hibernation are more potent etc. No studies that I know of. Perhaps this is just an urban myth that developed from the 24 hr news coverage where every bite makes the news. treatment for humans is also getting more aggressive with patients receiving up to 20 vials of antivenin.

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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by hygieiavet1 » Mar 24 2011 4:07 pm

In reply to BrettVet:
Please identify the "veterinarian that has written all the textbooks and articles concerning rattlesnakes" and expound on your role as "advisor" to this person. It would also be helpful to know which Board certification you hold. It is hard to evaluate your expertise when your bonafides are couched in the abstract as they are in your post.
The information you posted on rattlesnakes is largely correct, however the information you posted on the rattlesnake vaccine is not.
First, FDA has nothing whatsoever to do with licensing veterinary vaccines. No veterinary vaccine is licensed by FDA. In the United States, veterinary vaccines are licensed by USDA, and the rattlesnake vaccines are in fact licensed by USDA - the canine version since 2004, and the equine version since 2010.
Second, there are numerous studies submitted to USDA documenting the efficacy of these products in the intended species. Most of this information is not published in the veterinary literature, however, the review by USDA personnel prior to issuing a license is far more exacting than any given by peer reviewers prior to publication.
And as far as published information goes, information on the canine rattlesnake vaccine was presented at the Western States Veterinary Conference in February, 2005; information on the equine rattlesnake vaccine was presented at the Annual Conference on Vaccine Research in 2008. These were not "anecdotal stories about how well it worked" but serious, scientific presentations with plenty of hard data from several cohort-controlled challenge studies backing up the conclusions.
Finally, it is not true that "all the veterinary organizations do not recommend its use"; please see AAHA recommendations, for example, where the canine rattlesnake vaccine is a recommended non-core vaccine. Your post implies that most veterinary organizations recommend against the vaccine, and that is simply not true; at worst, they make no recommendation at all, for or against.
As for my bonafides, I work for the manufacturer of these products, and am one of the veterinarians directly involved in all the research that has been done with these vaccines. As such, I am very familiar with their performance in research studies and in the field. The vaccines do what they are labelled to do - generate venom-neutralizing antibody in dogs (canine version) and horses (equine version). This antibody has been demonstrated to neutralize venom at clinically relevant levels (or there would have been no USDA license issued), and that is based on science (direct challenge) not "warm fuzzies".
You are correct in the complexity of each envenomation event - it is not easily amenable to modelling. You are also correct in that delay in seeking treatment following envenomation is a major contributor to worsening outcomes - which is why we put the recommendation to seek medical attention immediately prominently on our literature, our website, and our packaging.
Vaccination is not a simple solution to a complex problem. It is like putting fire suppression systems in buildings. The systems won't prevent fires (the vaccine won't prevent envenomation), but they will suppress the effects and limit the damage (as the antibodies neutralize venom and suppress its effects in the body). A really bad fire can burn down the building, and a really bad envenomation can cause death, despite the presence of the suppression system (extinguishers or antibodies). But in both cases, you have a much better chance of survival, and with less damage, if the suppression system is present than you do if it is not. Conceptually, I guess that is pretty simple.

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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by Alston_Neal » Mar 24 2011 4:34 pm

Gawd I love the internet.
Good info here.
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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by PLC92084 » Mar 24 2011 4:41 pm

Alston, you had to choose this moment to post didn't you !? I was trying to be good but the question just popped into my head...

With all the discussion about Canine and Equine vaccines, I couldn't help but wonder if there's anything available to help the poor, feral cats...

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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by Alston_Neal » Mar 24 2011 4:52 pm

I believe the feral cat vaccine is 500cc of soy sauce.
Jeez, you bring out the dark side of me..... :D
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Re: Rattlesnake Vaccine for Canines

Post by PLC92084 » Mar 24 2011 5:10 pm

@Alston Neal

Oh, Sure!! Blame the innocent guy from CA... I was merely reading all I can on RS vaccines because my pooch is due for her booster.
You post your highly inflammatory comment about loving the internet and now... I'm the bad guy! :o

Can you imagine what would happen if we were to actually get together in person !? :STP:

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