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Many pheasant hunters who head into South Dakota will do so in hot weather. The hotter the weather the higher the chance you and your hunting dog will cross paths with a rattlesnake.

For humans it can be a minor concern. For a dog, it can be a major concern. They have greater exposure and a higher chance of being bitten. Therefore it is sensible to take precautions when you are out hunting in the Dakotas.

Many veterinarians recommend as precaution hunting dogs take a rattlesnake vaccine developed by Red Rock Biologics. The vaccine is given in two doses and is followed by an annual booster.

This then stimulates the dog’s own immune system to produce the required antibodies to fight off venom from most rattlesnakes. Although, hunters should be warned that while it reduces the severity of the bite, there will still be a reaction to the bite from your dog.

Dr. John Voegeli of the Animal Clinic in Winner, South Dakota fully recommends the treatment which can cost between $30 and $40 per dose.

Even if your dog has the treatment however, Dr. Voegeli reminds hunters that any bite from a rattlesnake is still an emergency. Another precaution to take when hunting is to know exactly where the nearest veterinary center is.

If your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake it is important that you get to the nearest vet as soon as possible. While en-route, keep your dog as quiet and still as possible. Activity will increase the speed at which the toxin spreads through the dog’s system – causing more damage.

To avoid snake bites you can stay clear of obvious snake habitats. These include prairie dog towns, old buildings and rocky south facing slopes. There are also methods to discourage your dog from investigating a rattlesnake by training them with a live de-fanged snake.

Have you ever encountered a rattlesnake in your hunting trips? What are your experiences?

Let us know in the comments below.

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