Should I or should I not vaccinate my pet– this is a dilemma faced by many pet owners especially when managing age or health-related issues.
Vaccines are useful in moderation to prevent disease and death.
For dogs, the core vaccines are considered to be Parvo and Distemper vaccines. There is a small percentage of pet owners that choose to take the risk and not vaccinate at all. 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.
Rabies vaccines are administered as applicable by law. I choose to wait where I can until the immune system is fully competent to handle the vaccine and choose to use the mercury-free (thiomersol-free) vaccine.
Any vaccine should be only administered to a healthy patient.
Should my pet be vaccinated against as many diseases as possible?
Pet Vaccines are not without harmful side effects and residual effects. Certain breeds are more sensitive than others. Age, health and a sound immune system also play a part. Therefore, a well-thought out and carefully formulated protocol should be set in place after discussion with your veterinarian. I want my patient protected both against the disease and also against any adverse effects of vaccines, therefore I choose to use only core vaccines.
How frequently should I vaccinate my pet?
In cases where minimal vaccines are advisable, I choose to administer the initial Parvo and Distemper vaccines at 9-12 weeks separately. This is not set in stone and is tailored to the individual patient. 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 Parvovirus or Distemper, a booster may be necessary 3-4 weeks later followed by a titre test.
For cats that could potentially be sensitive to vaccines, I vaccinate once in the first year against Feline Panleukopenia, Calicivirus and Rhinotracheitis. In these cases, a titre test may be performed every 2 years to check for antibodies to Feline Panleukopenia Virus.
My protocol varies on a case by case basis and is purely a matter of my professional judgement along with the client’s personal (and informed!) choice. I encourage every pet owner to discuss with their veterinarian and choose a protocol that best suits your dog or cat’s needs, lifestyle, age and health status.
What is a titre test?
A titre test measures the antibodies in the blood that are present from a previous vaccination or from having had exposure to the virus. The blood sample is diluted continuously until no antibody is measurable.
What should I do if my dog or cat’s titre test is low or negative?
A negative titre test does not mean that your dog has no antibodies, it means that the antibodies are not at the levels that are needed. A patient with a low titre could still be able to produce an immune response if exposed to the disease. There are memory cells in the body that retain the ability to help produce antibodies on exposure to a disease, even if the antibodies produced from vaccination fall to a minimum or are negative. However, depending upon on infection potential and the health status of your pet, you could choose to boost immunity with a booster vaccine against that particular disease. Homeopathic nosodes have been used, their efficacy in producing an antibody response is still being investigated. I use homeopathic nosodes to offset the adverse effects of certain vaccines as well as treat certain infectious diseases.
How can I get a titre test done?
Titre tests are usually done by submitting a blood sample through your veterinarian who will send it to the lab. However, some clinics use an in-house antibody titre kit.
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 2 years.
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?
Hemopet’s Hemolife Diagnostics in the US offers Rabies titre testing as well as other titres for dogs and cats. Titre samples can also be submitted by your veterinarian to labs of their choice.
Are titre tests available for cats?
Yes, feline titres can be checked at a lab or with Hemolife diagnostics.
Titres for Feline Panleukopenia, Feline Herpesvirus and Feline Calici virus can be checked.