Monday, August 23, 2010
Help from the audience, please
Rattlesnake vaccine: should I get it for Zelda? Up until 2 weeks ago, I lived in an area with no poisonous snakes (except ringnecks which really don't count). I'm out of my element. I'm leaning toward getting her vaccinated because my brain sez "VACCINES R TEH AWESOME!!". However, it may be too good to be true, and/or I may be blowing the risk out of proportion because I'm not used to it.
Here's what I know: Early results are promising, but currently there is insufficient data on the vaccine's efficacy and potency. Most sources recommend getting a booster at least yearly, some say every 6 months. Even if it works exactly as advertised, all it does is lessen the effects of the venom and give you more time to get to a vet.
Three out of four of my local vet hospitals stock it (and go to the trouble to advertise this on their websites).
Dogs are much more likely to be bitten than humans (for which most rattlesnakes are actually a fairly low risk - if there were a human rattlesnake vaccine, I wouldn't bother to get it for myself)
I'm waiting for a call back from county extension for more info about local rattlesnake information.
There's no way I'm mitigating this risk by keeping her on leash all the time when we go hiking. She loves exploring off leash; what's the point of protecting her life if she doesn't get to actually LIVE it? She isn't terribly interested in other animals. She doesn't chase, go off the path much, or dig, but she might approach a snake out of mild curiosity. She's under fairly good voice control. If I told her to leave it, she would. If I saw the situation in time, that is.
So. Anyone reading (especially those who live in pit viper territory): Thoughts? Recommendations? Admonitions? Anecdotes?