SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Snakes are becoming a big problem across the Wasatch front especially for dogs and hikers, but there is a way to protect your pet from rattlesnake bites.
Dugal is a very active 4-year-old pup from Ogden. He loves to go hiking with his owners Jon and Kat, but two weeks ago he ran into a life and death situation on one of his favorite trails.
Jon Zaremba said, "We were just taking a walk along the Shoreline Trail and on the way back, right here in the parking lot just about 10 feet from where we parked the car, he ran right on top of a rattle snake and got bit."
Luckily Dugal was protected; he had the snake bite vaccine. Veterinarians say it’s a must have for hunting and hiking dogs in this area.
Dr. Gregg Latimer, owner of Sugar House Veterinary Hospital explained, "It's licensed for reducing pain. Rattlesnake bites are very painful. It reduces swelling and stops tissue necrosis or tissue death which is a huge problem with snake bites."
Dugal did have some serious tissue damage, so much so he had to have surgery to remove the dead skin, but Jon and Kat say it could have been much worse.
Zaremba said, "My neighbor's golden retriever got bit and died a couple of hours later and it wasn't on the vaccine."
Dr. Latimer told ABC 4 News 30% of clinics that use the vaccine report treated dogs that have been vaccinated, and of those, 90% said they thought they saw a benefit.
Latimer said you think of the vaccine kind of like an insurance policy. One shot costs about $32. Anti-venom on the other hand costs about $1,500 a shot and most dogs need two.
Dr. Latimer said, “The problem with anti-venom is it’s very difficult to get, it’s very costly, and it’s of questionable value.”