Vaccinate or Test Titers? by Margo Roman, DVM

August 2, 2012

Dr. Margo Roman and her dogs

The antibody titer is used to determine your pet’s need for a booster immunization and whether a recent vaccine caused a strong enough response from your pet’s immune system to protect them against the specific disease.

Since 1996 we have been doing antibody titers instead of the traditional vaccine protocol of yearly boosters for Distemper and Parvo, and Panleukopenia for the cats. We have found that most pet’s vaccines are lasting 3-7 years, and we have a 16 year old cat that had sufficient protective antibodies 15 years after its last vaccines! By doing this simple blood test you can cut down on the number of vaccines that your pet receives over a lifetime by more than 75%. This leaves your pet’s immune system unstressed and ready to deal with other things that come along! We want to show that the animal is protected and the titer will give the Vet a closer look at the pets immune protection. We have also never had a case of the vaccinal diseases that we have tested and show protection to affect any of our patients. We usually skip titering for 3 years after an adult vaccine had been given unless the animal is to be boarded or required by groomer or kennel. When the vaccinal response has dropped we review all the plans of action. In our experience vaccinal responses do not drop suddenly.

Most kennels and grooming facilities are educated and familiar with the practice of antibody titers. They usually welcome a pet with such a conscientious health care program. In the event that the kennel of your choice does not accept titers, we have a list that we can recommend to you, or we have pet sitters available out of our office! We are happy to talk to any kennel willing to learn about titers.

Part of your vaccination protocol is keeping your pet current on rabies vaccines. Every time your pet is late for a rabies vaccine, they are at risk. Keeping your pet in a three year legal status is the best way to insure that they get the least number of vaccines over their lifetime, and that they are fully protected in the event of a bite wound or possible exposure. Teach children about not approaching stray or wild animals, especially wild animals that seem unusually friendly.

Rabies titers are an important way to find out how much antibodies your pet has left to protect itself. In a recent study presented at Angell Memorial hospital in 2008 the rabies vaccine has been shown to be 86% effective. Therefore there are 14% of vaccinated pets that are not protected. Therefore it seems that the titer for rabies on that individual is a better way to evaluate that animals level of protection. The titer is not legal protection as would be the vaccine. If you pet’s health is compromised  the rabies vaccine could be the insult that could push the immune system into a severe situation. Chronic diseases such as cancer, lyme, thyroid conditions, diabetes, kidney or liver problems can be reasons to get a titer. Challenging an animal’s immune system, that is already as risk, with a rabies vaccine that may not be needed may not be worth the risk of the vaccine. We have seen rabies vaccine titers last more than 7 years. Check out the rabies challenge fund.

Finally, when your pet does need to be vaccinated, there are some things you can do to make sure they have a minimal reaction. Follow routine vaccines with homeopathic Thuja 30C, and follow each rabies vaccine with a dose of Lyssin 200C. Make sure you never allow an unhealthy pet to be vaccinated, as their immune system won’t be up to the job of antibody response. Finally, make sure you observe your pet for several hours post vaccination, and watch for any signs of allergic response (facial swelling or respiratory distress and strange behavior).

As a pet owner you need to be empowered to question each vaccine and the needs of your pet … to look at all the toxic chemicals found in vaccines will make you question if your pet needs them…and needs them every year???

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