As pet parents, it can be extremely overwhelming being in charge of so many decisions in regard to their health. The bottom line is we ALL want to do what’s best for them. The problem comes in when it’s so unclear what that is.
There are countless studies proving different schools of thought. Vets that stand strong on both sides and an enormous amount of information available on the internet with large communities of people backing both sides. This gets even more confusing when there are more than two sides.
I am an advocate for holistic medication and natural remedies first always, but I still believe there is a time and a place for conventional care. This puts me somewhere in the middle in most cases including vaccines.
TO TITER or NOT TO TITER That is the question!
When I first heard about titer Testing, my initial reaction was overwhelming gratitude. It felt like an answer to my prayers and an easy way to cut out most of our vaccines. After taking a step back, I looked into the other side’s stance to get more of a full picture. Things that sound too good to be true, usually are and my dog’s life could be at risk if I make rash decisions in either direction. This is a big decision, and I need to make an educated decision.
So, to start examining this more closely,
What is titer Testing?
Titer tests are a tool used by dog owners and veterinarians to help minimize the risks of both infectious diseases and unnecessary vaccinations.
According to veterinary doctor, Jean Dodds,
“A titer test is a simple blood test that measures a dog or cat’s antibodies to vaccine viruses (or other infectious agents). For instance, your dog may be more resistant to a virus whereas your neighbor’s dog may be more prone to it. Titers accurately assess protection to the so-called “core” diseases (distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis in dogs, and panleukopenia in cats), enabling veterinarians to judge whether a booster vaccination is necessary. All animals can have serum antibody titers measured instead of receiving vaccine boosters. The only exception is rabies re-vaccination. There is currently no state that routinely accepts a titer in lieu of the rabies vaccine, which is required by law.”
The benefits of using a titer test:
Dog’s that have been properly immunized early on almost always develop the required antibodies that prevent the illness for their entire lives. These tests prove their immunity and reduce their chances of being harmed by over-vaccinating. Furthermore, I have yet to see a single study proving that a titer test showed immunity when it wasn’t there. The only evidence I’ve seen of false results is when they tested low, and immunity was actually completely adequate. Titer tests have actually proven nothing but how incredibly stable they are. It is generally suggested to titer every 3 years however, after two consecutive positive tests, you can safely test even less or not at all. I’m a worrier so I’ll probably stay in the 3 year camp. There are countless examples of this being unnecessary, however I know what I need to do to sleep at night!
“Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM, is a pioneer in vaccine protocol studies. According to her research, at least 95% of dogs actually retain immunity against the viruses in question (Rabies, Distemper and Parvovirus) for YEARS after being vaccinated. She also discovered that “evidence implicating vaccines in triggering immune-mediated and other chronic disorders is compelling.”
I have looked and not seen one single example of this not being true.
Downsides to Titer Testing:
-Mainly, the cost, anywhere from $40-$200 depending on your vet.
-Titer tests can “miss” undetected immunities that are present, so you end up paying for the titer test + the unnecessary vaccine.
This is “because a titer only measures antibodies, not cell-mediated immunity, which is the real-world measure of protection. In fact, as I learned, pets can sometimes come up negative (unprotected) on the titers and still have plenty of perfectly protective, cell-mediated immunity.” Jean Dodds
-There is not a titer test for everything. Non core vaccines such as Canine leptospirosis, bordetella or Lyme disease vaccines only provide short-term protection. This significantly compromises their value first of all, and most reasons to give them have to do with life style. In most cases the benefits do not outweigh the risks, but a vet can assist with this. It’s a particularly important thing to pay attention to, because these are considered particularly dangerous. Two good references to assist in making this decision are Non core vaccines And Necessary vaccines
-Depending on where you live, you might still need to legally do rabies. Some places allow the vet’s to makes this decision, others don’t.
This is something worth looking into because unlike the other vaccines, even just ONE single extra rabies shot can be life threatening.
*IF A DOG IS SICK or has a compromised immune system, they should NEVER be vaccinated. This could be extremely life threatening. Most vet’s should know this, but it’s very important to remember. Weather its something serious, a minor cold or even parasites, some vets may overlook this and exposing a dog to a virus at this time is never a safe thing to do.
Risks of over-vaccinating
From Dogs Naturally:
“When your dog is protected by the vaccines he’s already had, vaccinating him again does not make him “more immune”.
Most vaccines contain toxic chemicals.
One example is:
This is a mercury based additive used as a preservative. Mercury toxicity is well known and repeatedly proven in studies. Yet it’s still contained in most veterinary vaccines today. Even some vaccines that claim to be thimerosal-free may still contain small amounts of thimerosal. That’s because it can be used in processing but not added as an ingredient, so the manufacturers don’t have to disclose it.”
There is no debate that the diseases these vaccines are designed to prevent are VERY serious. However, once a dog has been vaccinated as an adult, these vaccines become more of a threat than the diseases they are supposed to prevent.
Places such as Banfield are promoting vaccines every 6 months, with is currently being scrutinized by the national veterinary association because this is in NO way accurate and extremely dangerous.
Dogs Naturally reports that:
“Ronald D Schultz PhD proved decades ago that most dogs will be protected for many years (and probably for life) by one round of core vaccines as puppies – usually when they’re about 16 weeks old. So, after their puppy shots, most dogs don’t need to be re-vaccinated ever, let alone year after year after year.
Dr Schultz reports:
“The patient receives no benefit and may be placed at serious risk when an unnecessary vaccine is given. Few or no scientific studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated.”
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have announced publicly that annual vaccination is unnecessary and can be harmful.”
This hasn’t stopped Bannfield yet, but it really should.
Most other vet offices do not do this, but rather, recommend certain ones every certain number of years as per the AAHA guidelines. This is not legally required except for rabies and there is still no proof of this being necessary at all. It is a much more reasonable course of action thankfully, but not substantiated as being necessary or worth the risks.
Even when given more responsibly, most vets will tell you that vaccinations are very safe, and only minor side effects directly after administration may occur.
We know now, that this is not true. Vaccines are very hard on the immune system. Deadly vaccine reactions and lifelong chronic illness, including autoimmune diseases and cancer can and have been proven to occur.
The best source of complete benefit/risk analysis of some of these is HERE
Some examples of risks are:
- “Those containing adjuvants, or chemicals that stimulate the immune system, have been linked to cancerous tumors known as fibrosarcomas.
- The distemper vaccine has been strongly linked to joint disease and arthritis – two increasingly common chronic diseases in dogs.
- The parvo vaccine has been linked to heart disease and can create a chronic form of the disease, the symptoms of which include chronic gastritis, hepatitis and pancreatitis, chronic diarrhea and food sensitivities.
- Every lepto vaccine contains an aluminum adjuvant which causes cancer.
- The risk of Vaccine Induced Autoimmune Disease is greater than the risk of lepto and the lepto vaccine carries a higher risk than most other vaccines.”
There are increasing studies being conducted today, and an overwhelming amount of evidence to support the dangers of continuing these vaccines.
Myths about vaccines:
- They prevent the intended disease 100%
- They lose effectiveness over time
- They can be made more effective by continued administration – revaccination does not mean more immunity
- Vaccinations work on every animal
Risks of not vaccinating
Almost every vet agrees that it’s a good idea to vaccinate puppies. Some say one additional booster is needed. Then it becomes murky. Some say the titer tests are not adequate but fail to show evidence of this being true. Others rather be “safe” than sorry but fail to consider the incredibly negative impacts of the vaccines themselves. Many think that the vet offices just want to make money or avoid interpreting titer results. Regardless of the reasoning, the arguments for continued vaccinations seem to be generated by fear and lack of information.
I looked deeply into this because I have a very active, social dog. She swims, plays in dog parks and is exposed to everything that these vaccines protect against. I wanted to be as sure as I could be before her next annual check up. I found nothing that made me believe that they were necessary.
I am not going to waste my time getting my dog titer tested at our current vet. I am working very hard to find a new vet who can interpret these correctly, among other things. With someone who is educated on this, I can decided whether or not any additional vaccines are needed. My analysis of the not titer-testable vaccines is that she does not need them, but this is not a decision I would make on my own.
Some people will criticize me and say I’m exposing my dog to dangers by eliminating vaccines. Others will say I’m wasting my money on a test she doesn’t need, because it’s incomplete, and she doesn’t need any more vaccines regardless of the test. I have to be ok with this. Ultimately, it’s my decision. I often say on here that I’m not a vet. However, most of what I share comes from reading things written by doctors, and it still boils down to being a very personal decision. That’s the bottom line. We’re all just doing our best. This is the best of what I’ve found. If nothing else, I hope this helps bring the issue to attention. I know it’s one that I missed for a long time. I wish we could trust our vet but this is just another reason why it’s so important to find one that we do!
This guide offers some additional info.
My next battle, will be our monthly heat guard pill. This is not something I will discuss until after seeing a new vet. There is a TON of holistic resources for people, if they are interested in finding other methods. Because of where I live, I can’t take them away during cold weather months, so I’m stuck using something stronger than the alternative methods I have seen. I am not without hope however, and I hope to share some encouraging news on that in the next coming months!
This article explains my concerns regarding heart worm pills along with some alternatives for those who may be interested.
In the mean time, we do this annual Cleanse.