Since the early 1990s, through my organisation, Canine Health Concern, and through articles, books, and lectures, I’ve been working to end the over-vaccination of our dogs. It has been a long, slow, process because, at first, neither dog owners nor the veterinary profession would accept the science. Back in the 1970s, Drs Ronald D Schultz and Tom R Philips published their research findings in Kirk’s Veterinary Therapies. These independent scientists had established that once a dog is immune to the core viral diseases of distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus (canine viral hepatitis), they are immune for years, and probably for life. In other words, we don’t need to vaccinate our dogs annually or, as another modern myth asserts, even three-yearly. This is because immunity, once established, can be lifelong.
Easily available tests to establish immunity are an important piece of the jigsaw in relation to canine health, because – as my extensive research over the years has highlighted, and as the WSAVA makes clear – vaccines are not without harm. A simple in-practice test, such as VacciCheck offers a positive way in which to avoid over-vaccination and build evidence to hopefully put an end to annual and three-yearly shots.
Titer testing is important because every vaccine has the potential to create a wide range of adverse effects. And, as stated in the WSAVA puppy guidelines (http://www.petwelfarealliance.org/uploads/3/0/3/6/3036695/new_puppy_owner_vaccination_guidelines_may_2013.pdf) every reaction to a vaccine that is not needed is unacceptable.
It’s also important to understand that vaccine damage is not the same as, for example, pricking your thumb with a needle and you bleed. Vaccines can disrupt any system within the body, and overt signs can appear within hours, or days, or weeks, or months, or even some years down the line. Contaminated distemper vaccines in the UK and Japan, for example, carry a feline retrovirus RD-114, which can theoretically produce cancer or leukaemia five years after a vaccine event. Other documented vaccine adverse events include allergies, a range of autoimmune diseases, and neurological effects. This makes it difficult sometimes to tie individual cases of vaccine damage in with a vaccine event – but we do have the science supporting all of these links. For those requiring supporting references, see http://www.petwelfarealliance.org/uploads/3/0/3/6/3036695/vaccine_science_research.pdf
Dog owners are becoming knowledgeable
There is something of a revolution in the dog world. Many dog owners are educating themselves on the vaccine issue and choosing to either have the puppy shots done, or to refrain from vaccinating at all. I appreciate that many will consider this to be an irresponsible choice – but since vaccines can be behind what I have called The REAL Epidemic, that is, allergies, autoimmunity, cancer and neurological problems - many consider the vaccine risk to be greater than the viral risk to our dogs. And this is where VacciCheck is proving to be an invaluable aid for responsible, caring, educated dog owners.
At the start of my work as a vet, the owner of an elderly female dog, Ginger, with a chronic renal disease, brought her in to receive the annual vaccination [core diseases vaccines, Canine Parvo virus (CPV), Canine distemper virus (CDV) and Canine adeno virus (CAV)].
The first question was “is it really necessary to automatically revaccinate every year for core vaccines, especially in an elderly dog with chronic health problems?”.
Intrigued by the question, I looked for answers.
I have come across a number of studies showing proof that core diseases vaccines may last for several years. The high prevalence of adequate antibody levels in a large population implies that annual revaccinations against CPV, CDV and CAV aren’t necessarily needed.
The scientific arguments in favour of less frequent revaccinations are traditionally based on antibody titers. Protection against most viral diseases is indeed antibody-mediated, and antibodies are easily measured.
Due to these findings the WSAVA (World Small Animal Vaccination Association) Vaccination Guidelines states “The presence of antibody (no matter what the titre) indicates protective immunity and immunological memory is present in that animal. Giving more frequent vaccines to animals in an attempt to increase antibody titre is a pointless exercise. It is impossible to create ‘greater immunity’ by attempting to increase an antibody titre.”
Ensuring Ginger was immunized, I took a blood sample and ran the VacciCheck antibody test for the presence of antibodies against core disease. Results were conclusive - Ginger was immunized with regard to all the three core diseases, and so no need for further vaccination.
*Ginger's titer test results by VacciCheck
Needless to say, Ginger's owner was delighted. I imagine that Ginger was delighted as well…