Friday, June 01, 2007
Titer Testing instead of vaccinations
Category: Pets and Animals
The current pressure is for everyone to vaccinate annually for booster shots to be a "good" dog parent. Taking a dog to the dog park, to the groomer's or to the boarding kennel, you'll always be asked is your dog "current" on their vaccinations. Considering that in most areas, rabies is the only vaccination mandated by law, and all vaccinations have a very long lifespan (studies indicate anywhere from 7 years to a lifetime), then most of us should be able to answer positively that the animals are current. Puppies should have their puppy shots and a one-year booster and the animals should follow whatever their local law is on rabies. There are studies showing that there has never been a case of rabies in an animal who has received two rabies shots during it's lifetime, but that's for another conversation and hopefully the Rabies Challenge Study will help us make strides in this area of medicine. So why do we have to present paperwork showing that the animals have been vaccinated for everything, not just rabies, within the last year? And if the animal hasn't been vaccinated, then why should the facility be concerned if the owners are willing to sign a waiver? After all, it's the unvaccinated dog that carries the risk. An animal with a built up immunity will carry the illness with them without showing any ill effects and should not get an illness if exposed, right?
There are studies that indicate that vaccinating too frequently results in a condition called vaccinosis and many veterinarians believe this condition is at the root of many of the chronic problems we're seeing today in dogs. Of course, there are some who intentionally perpetuate the problem because they get to continue treatment on the animals. Like some human doctors prefer to throw prescriptions at the patient instead of addressing the underlying issues at hand for a real cure.
Research and education is the only way to truly be responsible for our own health and the health of those loving souls whose existence in in our care.
When the next round of shots are due, we are going to try a different approach and have titer tests run. Although not infallible, they offer a possibility of measuring antibody response in the body to determine if the animal is safe from or at risk for that particular illness. Here is an article written about titer tests for a very respected dog magazine:
And here are some related links for you, including two written by veterinarians.
The Vaccine Question - Dr. Pitcairn
Vaccines - Are They Safe for Your Dog? - Dr. Blanco
Vaccine Protocols for Dogs
Rabies Vaccinosis Alert
Vaccine Reaction Study
We are still learning here, but the more I study vaccinosis, the more I can draw upon examples from my history and explain strange behaviors that now make sense for certain dogs whose paths have crossed with mine. I'm sure it's not the answer in every case, but in my quest for optimal health for our cherished pets, it is another piece of the puzzle that must be as thoroughly investigated as proper nutrition, healthy diet, and puppy developmental exercises.