Snake Vaccinations For Pets

I heard that it’s now in vogue to get vaccinations against snakebites for pets. Do people actually pay for this?

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Q. I heard that it’s now in vogue to get vaccinations against snakebites for pets. Do people actually pay for this?
Dan Rosenberg
Hong Kong

A. I don’t personally know anyone who’s sought this “insurance,” but it does exist. I’d imagine that most people familiar with herps would scoff at the idea. But let’s look at it from the viewpoint of John Q. Public, still living largely (incredibly) in the fog about the reality of actual threats from venomous snakes.


People have been continuously encroaching on nature as subdivisions push farther out from urban centers. Encounters with wild herps keep occurring, despite the animals’ growing scarcity in general. A small percentage of those encounters will be with venomous species. Pets roaming free in rural yards and beyond are the most likely to make contact.

If you’re new to a country estate from the city, few things are probably more terrifying than meeting up with deadly snakes that “invade” your domain. When you’ve grown up your entire life protecting your family via insurance and other safety measures, the logic of vaccinating your beloved pet against bites makes perfect sense.

Pet immunizations work the same as with the few humans who have undertaken them due to their daily work in close proximity with venomous species. Doses of antivenom are introduced to pets’ bloodstreams over multiple injections, so a degree of immunity is temporarily achieved. It’s hard to say how long the protection will last, because the person administering (and profiting from) the product’s use will naturally want to promote frequent “booster” shots. With no clear way to test results, any recommended regimen will likely remain in speculation.

Treatments are provided only by veterinarians. It’s pricey, too, but because there’s a market for it, it is available. Interested parties should talk to their vet, because it’s not something they are likely to keep in stock all the time. Occasionally, dogs have had allergic reactions, and some have suffered more severe symptoms, just as humans receiving antivenom for bites sometimes do.