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Titer Testing & Safe Vaccination
Before I began my journey into natural dog health, I did what all good-intending pet parents do and took all of health advice provided to me by veterinary professionals at face value. What I didn't know at the time was all the harm I was doing by over vaccinating. Let me pause here before I go any further...I am NOT an "anti-vaxxer". My belief is that pets should receive NECESSARY vaccines when titer tests indicate antibodies for those diseases are low. Things like Rabies, Distemper and Parvovirus are nothing to take lightly. But, there is a SAFER way to ensure your pet is protected from these dangerous diseases, without blindly & routinely vaccinating.
Despite a vast amount of research, showing that dogs have more adverse reactions from "combination vaccines" and unnecessary yearly routine boosters, only ~40% of veterinarians follow the current WSAVA, AVMA, AAHA, CVMA vaccine guidelines. These guidelines were developed to protect dogs from over-vaccination (also often referred to as vaccinosis).
A short snippet from AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) 2003 – Current knowledge supports the statement that “No vaccine is always safe, no vaccine is always protective and no vaccine is always indicated.” Research suggests that many dogs show LIFELONG immunity to their initial vaccinations/boosters, so yearly boostering is beyond "overkill". Especially when we are considering senior animals or ill animals, vaccination should be done with extreme caution and only if absolutely necessary.
Luckily, most veterinary clinics now have access to something called "Titer Tests" which I will explain more in detail below, but essentially, titers can measure the level of antibodies present to protect your dog from a specific disease, such as Distemper, Parvovirus, and even Rabies.
Below is the recommended Minimal Vaccine Protocol, developed by Dr. Jean Dodds and widely accepted as a safe alternative to the conventional protocol.
Minimal Vaccination Protocol:
The minimal vaccine protocol was developed by Dr. Jean Dodds and provides pet owners with an alternative to the extreme vaccine schedules recommended by many conventional veterinary practices.
MINIMAL VACCINE PROTOCOL FOR DOGS
9 WEEKS OF AGE:
Parvovirus + Distemper
14 WEEKS OF AGE:
Parvovirus + Distemper
17 WEEKS OF AGE:
Parvovirus + Distemper
20 WEEKS OF AGE:
AT 1 YEAR OF AGE:
Parvovirus + Distemper FINAL (Titers from now on, every 3 years.)
Four weeks after the parvo + distemper one year booster, you should give your dog the three year rabies vaccine. The rabies vaccine is required by law in most places, so it must be given every three years, unless you live in an area that accepts Rabies Titres as proof of vaccination.
What is Titer Testing?
Pronounced Tight-errr, a titer is a simple blood test that measures circulating antibodies which determines immunity.
This means that if your pet is showing existing immunity, you can avoid vaccinating unnecessarily! Dr. Jean Dodds suggests that dogs should be titer tested for distemper and parvovirus a minimum of every three years to ensure immunity is maintained against these viruses. Ask your veterinarian if they offer in-house Titer testing. If not, ask them if they can collect the blood sample for you to send out for testing. There are several labs that offer this testing, simply by mailing in your blood sample. The most widely used, especially for Rabies, is Hemopet. I have shipped my dogs' blood sample from Canada directly to Hemopet. See the video above for more information about submitting a titer test sample, and what a titer test report looks like!
How to offset the effects of vaccines/prevent vaccinosis:
When your titer test indicates you need to vaccinate, there are ways to help your pet cope with the negative side effects and flush out these vaccine-related toxins. Ask your holistic vet about a vaccine detox protocol for your dog. We use Thuja - a homeopathic remedy, but there are many others, depending on the symptoms you are trying to offset. Silica is another very common homeopathic remedy used for vaccinosis. We look for a remedy that matches the state of illness your animal is portraying by observing his symptoms, if any are present.
I often get asked "but why would I want to flush out the vaccine...isn't that counter-productive?" You aren't flushing out the vaccine...you are helping your pets organs flush out the toxic load left over from the vaccines. So your pet is protected AND maintains vital organ function...win-win!
Here are some addtional resources for those who would like to do more reading/find a titer test facility:
Hemopet by Dr. Jean Dodds (education & Titer Testing facility): https://www.hemopet.org/hemolife-diagnostics/titer-testing%EF%BB%BF
Dr. Robb - Protect the Pets Movement for safer vaccinations: http://www.protectthepets.com
American Animal Hospital Association Vaccination Guidleines: https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/vaccination-canine-configuration/vaccination-canine/