Over the years, Professor Ronald Schultz has been a pioneer in creating vaccination guidelines for our pets.
So when Professor Schultz comes up with the statement “Be Wise and Immunize, But Immunize Wisely”, what is the take home message?
A Concept Change for Pet Vaccination
The routine administration of vaccines in dogs and cats has been one of the most significant factors in the consistent reduction of serious dog and cat infectious diseases.
Although all veterinarians agree vaccines are necessary, the frequency in which some of them are given, is now debated.
It is known that dogs and cats, after vaccination, often maintain protective antibody to what is called the “core diseases” - Canine Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Distemper and Feline Panleukopenia, Herpes and Calici Virus for three or more years. So, our dilemma is knowing that we may not need to revaccinate our pets for core vaccines, how can we know that the antibody levels of our pets through vaccination are indeed adequate?
Titer Testing to Determine Protection for Our Pets
Antibody or titer testing can be used to show levels of protection after vaccinating our pets with core vaccines.
Therefore, when an antibody is present, there should be no need to revaccinate.
How Often to Titer Test?
Professor Schultz has offered the following advice:
“Neither a titer nor annual vaccination is necessary every year because of the core vaccines’ duration of immunity. However, a blood sample taken yearly from an animal for a titer check is preferential to an unnecessary vaccination as a vaccine may cause harm.”
The Canine and Feline VacciCheck are Core Vaccine Tests
One of the titer tests available and, easily performed by vets, in their clinics, is VacciCheck.
VacciCheck tests for your pet’s antibodies and can determine if a dog or cat needs an additional core vaccine vaccination. This may save the dog or cat unnecessary vaccinations.
VacciCheck also confirms if puppies or kittens have received immunity from vaccination.
Also unique about VacciCheck, results can be received on the same day.
So vets now have a quick and simple test that can be performed in their clinic, at a reasonable cost to the pet owner.
It is no wonder that The World Small Animal Veterinary Association recommends in clinic titer testing, such as VacciCheck.
My journey to the alternative healthcare model, interestingly began with my late Miniature Bull Terrier, Molly’s Titre Test in 2008.
Back then, before in-house Titre Tests like VacciCheck were available, a Titre Test was not only expensive, but treated with suspicion and scepticism by Vets.
The option for Titre was only presented to Molly as I was anxious about giving her a booster. I’d read many articles in the consumer dog press that highlighted how some dogs become ill after a booster jab.
As I had constantly ignored the reminder letters to booster, our then conventional vet practice phoned me. The vets were highly concerned that Molly had not been boostered since her puppy shots.
She was aged six in 2008 and they were correct in that she had never had a booster. Listening to my concerns, our vet reluctantly suggested a Titre Test.
I was advised it would cost £380.00 and that I would most likely have to pay for a booster jab as well, as Molly was sure to need one.
Our vet was convinced that Molly’s serological results to the core diseases for dogs, Canine Distemper virus (CDV); infectious hepatitis (ICH) and canine parvovirus (CPV), would be low and she would need a booster.
Imagine the Vet’s surprise when Molly’s Titre Test results showed results of her serological immunity scored as high, for all three diseases.
Molly proved that six years on from her first puppy shots, given at eight and twelve weeks, that her immunity was still high. She did not need a booster!
This questioned the school of thought that vaccines’ DOI (Duration of Immunity) was less than three years. Indeed back in 2008 the view was that boosters ought to be administered annually!
The landmark moment came when in 2013 the WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) revised its original vaccination guidelines (published in 2007) to include the use of Titre Testing in lieu of annual boosters.
In its latest edition (2017), the WSAVA in fact stresses the value of, and recommends Titre Testing.
Just as Molly’s Titre testing proved, the topical issue of Duration of Immunity (DOI) has been shown to last from initial puppy shots, often for a lifetime.
Offering Titre Tests, vets can reach out to owners like myself who do not believe in doing something (ie giving a booster jab) when it’s unnecessary.
The key principle behind natural ‘holistic’ medicine is to adopt the ‘Precautionary Principle’ keeping the toxin load from environmental stressors – arguably vaccines, flea treatments, wormers, overuse of medications like antibiotics, steroids and pain killers - to a minimum.
This also means balancing and reducing the environmental stressors that are present in the foods we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink.
I named Molly’s successor Prudence - as it’s not only a ‘old’ English name, suited to her breed, but it is also to remind me - be prudent.
Aged 15 weeks, Prudence arrived into the UK under the PETS scheme. She had had her first puppy shots at eight weeks, then the Thimerosal free rabies shot at 15 weeks allowing her entry into the UK.
Prudence went for her vet check and a discussion about her vaccines, which involved Titre Testing her, using VacciCheck at 16 weeks.
Prudence had seroconverted! Her level for canine parvovirus (CPV) was high; for canine distemper virus (CDV), medium; and for infectious hepatitis (ICH), medium.
As she displayed adequate immunity, there was no need to give her any more shots. In line with my study, I wanted to keep environmental stressors to a minimum, especially at such a young age.
Thanks to the WSAVA VGG group, the on-going acceptance by Vets of Vaccicheck’s in house Titre testing, s arguably one of the biggest steps forward in modern Veterinary health care.
It allows owners to manage and take control of their pets’ immunity, and not unnecessarily over vaccinate.