Vaccines is a super hot topic in the veterinary medicine world, and with good reason: Many experts believe overvaccination of our pets is harming and/or killing them. As a dog mom whose Cocker Spaniel acquired a mast cell (cancer) tumor at the site of then yearly injections, my life is forever changed. I no longer vaccinate because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” I follow a protocol, in accordance with the latest credible veterinary resources and in following the teachings of Dr. Jean Dodds.
Am I anti-vaccine? No. Dogs need proper vaccination.
Am I anti over vaccination? Absolutely.
Here’s what you need to know about vaccinations before your dog’s next veterinary visit for shots:
Vaccines Are Not Completely Evil
Dr. Dodds is a pioneer in veterinary medicine. She says that thanks to vaccinations, historically more lives have been saved and more animals have been safeguarded than any other medical advances. Canine vaccinations have significantly reduced endemics of canine distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus but NOT in wildlife reservoirs.
Though vaccine companies make excellent products, they are not a one-size-fits-all for every dog.
Therein lies part of the problem. The same dose of vaccination that is given to a giant breed is the same one given to a toy breed: Side effects and reactions to vaccines tend to occur in smaller dogs and in dogs who are vaccinated with multiple vaccines together. Sadly, in a huge study that was released in 2005, evidence showed that smaller dogs were at risk and that too many vaccines cause major problems. Nothing has changed, and here we are in 2015!!!
Should Your Dog Have Vaccines?
Diligent dog parents should have a discussion with their dog’s vet about potential adverse reactions. You absolutely do NOT need to re-vaccinate (give “boosters”) automatically. Read our story on mast cell cancer for one of many reasons why.
Titers are a valuable resource. Titer testing measures the exposure to the agent in the dog’s body. It is performed by extracting blood and sending it to the lab. So basically, if your dog tests positive on a titer for parvovirus, you don’t need to vaccinate with a booster. If the titer comes back 1:8 or 1:64, it doesn’t matter. As Dr. Dodds says, “you can’t be a little pregnant!” Similarly, immunity is immunity, no matter what the ratio shows. Any ratio that shows immunity means the animal is protected.
Here is my dog’s recent titer for distemper and parvovirus:
Why Only Titer for Distemper and Parvovirus?
Titers are not as expensive as one would think, and there is now even an in-office titer test your vet can do for your dog. The titers you need only test for are distemper and parvovirus, even though others are available. Discuss the information with your vet but make sure you don’t feel pressured to do what the vet says must be: Seek another veterinarian if your vet is not willing to talk to you.
You can read Dr. Dodds’ vaccine protocol here. Discuss any changes or concerns with your dog’s veterinarian.
Recently, our friend had her dog, an 11-year-old mixed breed, titers tested. Her distemper showed low, and her vet recommended a booster shot: Which included more than a distemper booster. My friend questioned this and was told a single shot of distemper booster is not available. That is perplexing. So a dog gets titers tested, but then when one comes back low and the other sufficient, why would a vet want to overvaccinate anyways? If something sounds amiss, question it.
“Most vets don’t want to buy a tray of 50 doses of something that few clients will want, nor do companies want to produce what is not going to sell,” she say. “And distemper really isn’t that much of a risk in many areas—it’s parvo that’s the big threat.”
Coger says that historically, distemper was a big disease, and tradition dictates we vaccinate for it. So we do. So much of vaccination protocol is based on “what we’ve always done” rather than true science and appreciation for how extremely effective today’s vaccines are.
Coger’s preference is for DP (distemper, parvo) or DAP (distemper, canine adenovirus, and canine parvovirus) She often starts with parvo only and will not give any of the bigger combinations: it’s just too much and unnecessary in most cases, she reports.
With today’s modified live (AKA infectious) vaccines, Coger reveals that dogs can get lifetime immunity with a single dose of vaccine.
What if the Titer Shows Immunity Without Having Had Vaccine?
Interestingly, a dog’s titer test can show that the dog is effectively protected against a disease, such as parvo, and perhaps the dog hasn’t had a parvo vaccine since puppyhood. The reason for this is that the dog has been exposed to parvo in the real world – and that exposure created a natural immunity. “It doesn’t matter how it got there, as long as it’s (the immunity) there,” Dr. Dodds shares.
I attended a webinar hosted by Dr. Dodds and learned that dogs with white or dilute coat colors have a higher propensity to reactions to things in general. Lighter colored dogs are more prone to chemical reactions beyond vaccine side effects – including flea medications and sulfonamides, etc. Use caution if your dog is white and/or is lightly pigmented, as my dog is.
All that might be needed is a titer. The bottom line is that Dr. Dodds recommends more titers for distemper and parvo for adult dogs.
Question: Do you follow a vaccine protocol for your dog? Are you getting yearly shots? Titers?
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