Are Vaccines a Necessary Evil?

Should I or should I not vaccinate my pet– this is a question most of us pet owners ask ourselves and our veterinarians. 

Vaccines are useful in moderation to prevent disease and death. 

As an integrative veterinarian, I do recommend protecting your puppy against Parvo and Distemper viruses. There is a small percentage of pet owners that choose to take the risk and not vaccinate. It is possible that a dog or cat with a good immune system may be able to fight the virus in these cases. However, with no immunization at all, the risk of contracting and succumbing to the disease is also high, especially in high-risk areas and breeds.

For cats, it is recommended to vaccinate against Feline panleukopenia (FPV), feline calicivirus and feline rhinotracheitis virus. However I tend to be cautious with vaccines in cats and vaccinate only those that are at high risk for contracting disease.

Should my pet be vaccinated against as many diseases as possible?

Vaccines are not without harmful side effects and residual effects so it is best to avoid these risks by clearly using only those that are absolutely necessary. 


How frequently should I vaccinate my pet?

I recommend that the initial Parvo and Distemper vaccines are administered at 9-12 weeks separately. In certain breeds that are at high risk for auto-immune disease or cancer, this may be followed by a titre test 3 weeks later and a booster may be administered if needed. In areas that are high risk for Parvovoirus or Distemper, a booster may be necessary 3-4 weeks later. 

For cats, if vaccination is absolutely needed, I recommend vaccinating once in the first year against Feline panlekopenia, Calicivirus and rhinotracheitis. Following this, a titre test may be performed every 2 years to check for antibodies to FPV.


What should I do if my dog or cat’s titre test is negative?
Even if no antibodies show up on the titre test, it does not mean that your dog or cat has no immunity. There is still a cellular memory to that particular virus which will produce antibodies on exposure. However, I do prefer to boost immunity in these cases with homeopathic nosodes for that particular virus. Some owners request a booster vaccine for peace of mind. 

What is a titre test?

A titre test measures your dog or cat’s immunity to a particular disease. It measures the antibodies in the blood that are present from a previous vaccination or from having had exposure to the virus. 


How can I get a titre test done?

Titre tests are usually done through the lab. However, at Phoenix Rising Integrative Veterinary Care, an in-house antibody titre kit is used. A few drops of blood is all that is needed and the results are usually ready in 30 minutes. Currently, we only stock the titre test kit for canines. 


How frequently should I titre test my dog?

Titres can last from 1 year to even 5-7 years. This varies widely among individuals. For this reason I recommend titre testing every year if the titres are low or every 2 years if your dog has good titres at each test. 


What diseases does the canine titre kit test for?

This kit tests for antibodies against Parvovirus, Distemper and Viral Hepatitis. 


Is there a titre test for the Rabies virus?

There is no in house titre kit for the Rabies virus. 

Hemopet’s Hemolife Diagnostics in the US offers Rabies titre testing as well as other titres for dogs and cats. 

Provincial laws require that Rabies vaccine be administered every 3 years in low risk areas. 

Rabies titres are not accepted as proof of immunity while travelling to other countries, 


Are titre tests available for cats?

Yes, feline titres can be checked at a lab or with Hemolife diagnostics. 

An inhouse feline titre test kit has been developed to test against Panleukopenia and we are considering acquiring this based on demand. 


At Phoenix Rising Integrative Veterinary Care, we want to ensure our patients are protected against Parvo and Distemper. However, we are aware of the high risk of repeated immunizations. In order to educate the public and to promote the use of titre testing, Phoenix Rising is offering in-house titre testing for dogs at a discounted rate from January 23, 2018 to January 26, 2018. 

Please call Rachel at 604-436-0726 for details. 

If we do have adequate requests for feline titres, we will acquire the feline test kit to accommodate clients including Dr. Raj’s own cats. 

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