Western diamondback rattlesnake, authors Clinton and Charles Robertson
GRANITE BAY, CA - A rash of rattlesnake attacks on pets has families on high alert to protect their furry family members.
The Placer County SPCA warned dog owners about a rash of rattlesnake bites after two small dogs were attacked and died in Granite Bay and Folsom.
"She was the sunshine, the sunshine and that's why everyone including the dog is mourning so much," poodle Cuddles' owner Sharon said.
Cuddles was attacked by a rattlesnake in the family's fenced in yard in Granite Bay. Two emergency antivenin treatments could not save the small dog's life.
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"She was only six and a half pounds, I don't know that she had a chance but she might have with the vaccine," Sharon said.
The pre-antivenin vaccine is administered with two shots over two months. On Thursday, Cuddles' companion got the first of two shots.
"The immunity that the rattlesnake vaccine provides is short lived, but they need to be bolstered on a regular basis," Loomis Basin Veterinary Clinic veterinarian Dr. Jill Ashehoug said.
However, veterinarians said the vaccine will not guarantee a dog's life will be saved; it's a preventive measure to increase survival chances. Dog owners can also buy a rattlesnake avoidance training class, which teaches dogs to avoid the sight and sound of snakes.
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"When a dog sees the snake and turns to you and comes to you, you positively reinforce that," Ashehoug said.
Snakes often hide under rocks and in high grass, places dogs venture into following their nose.
Ramirez Rattlesnake Removal Company is removing about 80 to 100 snake s a week.
"When we have really hot weather like this, the calls go all through the evening," Bruce Ramirez said.
Antivenin vaccines cost $48 for the two shots. The treatment is followed by yearly booster shots that cost $25.
Ashehoug said there is periodical evidence showing that the antivenin vaccine works, but there is anecdotal evidence to show it reduces the symptoms and buys time.
One side effect is swelling in the area of the injection.
Ashehoug said if your pet is bitten; rush it to the vet immediately for treatment.