Tag Archives: titers

It’s Time to Put a Stop to the Mindless Over-Vaccination of Pets

June 25, 2017
by Karen Becker, DVM

V I D E O here

Story at-a-glance

  • Dr. John Robb, a Connecticut veterinarian, has become known worldwide for his fight against profiteering and over-vaccination in veterinary medicine
  • Dr. Robb’s incredible story serves as a wake-up call to pet parents and the veterinary community about the dangers of bucking the system, and why the lives of companion animals hang in the balance
  • Protect the Pets is the movement Dr. Robb founded to raise awareness about the dangers of over-vaccination and the urgent need to change existing rabies vaccination laws in the U.S.
  • Protect the Pets is NOT an anti-vaccination movement; the goal is to protect animal companions from over-vaccination and vaccine toxicosis

Today I’m talking with a very special guest, Dr. John Robb, a veterinarian for over 30 years and world famous almost overnight (more about that shortly).  Dr. Robb attended veterinary school at the University of California, Davis in the early 1980s, followed by a one-year internship at a private practice in Connecticut, the New Haven Central Veterinary Hospital.

“It’s true I’ve come in the public eye more recently,” says Dr. Robb. “But honestly, I’ve been fighting to be a veterinarian my whole career. The drive profits in veterinary medicine has really become a problem, especially with the advent of companies like Veterinary Centers of America (VCA) and the Mars Company coming in and owning veterinary hospitals.

These are businessmen and businesswomen. These are people that want to make profits but don’t necessarily have the best interest of the pets involved. And unfortunately, the veterinary establishment, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and other organizations, seem to be joining forces with them instead of putting their hands up and saying, ‘We have a problem here.'”

Don’t Save the Dog: Profits Over Pets

On Dr. Robb’s very first overnight shift at New Haven Central, a vet tech dropped off a stray dog who had been hit by a car.  The dog was in bad shape, and Dr. Robb was supposed to put him to sleep.  The dog opened his eyes and looked at Dr. Robb, who of course worked the rest of the night to save him.

“I was in big trouble in the morning because I had spent a lot of money and there was no owner,” Dr. Robb says. “I kind of knew at that point it wasn’t really about the pets. Fortunately, the owner was eventually found and reunited with his dog, and he sang the praises of New Haven Central, so I was off the hot seat. But I learned there’s a big thing about money in our profession that supersedes caring for the pets.”

Dr. Robb has been fighting the system ever since, and especially on the topic of vaccines. Many people have understood for decades that we’re over-vaccinating pets, but the problem seems to have bubbled to the surface recently in a big way.

‘I’m Hurting My Patients With These Vaccines’

Like all veterinary students, Dr. Robb was taught in vet school that vaccines are good and prevent disease.  But once he was a practicing DVM, he began to see vaccine side effects such as life-threatening anaphylaxis, as well as longer term vaccine-related disorders.

“I began to read the veterinary literature like JAVMA, the Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association,” says Dr. Robb. “I started to research on my own. I came across veterinarians who had been showing that vaccines caused a lot of serious side effects, including hemolytic anemia and cancer at the injection sites. I had a problem now. I’m a veterinarian, and I’m hurting my patients with these vaccines.”

Dr. Robb began changing the way he did things in his practice.  For example, he lengthened the intervals between vaccines, and lowered the dose because it was very clear to him that small pets couldn’t handle the same amount of vaccine as larger animals.

Increasingly, Corporations Dictate How Veterinary Medicine Is Practiced

When he bought a Banfield Pet Hospital practice, Dr. Robb realized the franchise was very much into over-vaccinating.  So he put his own protocols in place, including “smaller dogs receive a lower volume,” and only one vaccine per visit.  He also didn’t give all the vaccines the franchise recommended.  Then Mars Petcare bought Banfield. Dr. Robb explains what happened next:

“They basically came in and said, ‘Look, we want your franchise back. In fact, we’re buying all the franchises back. We control the doctors. We’re going to give you about a third of what it’s worth and you’re going to leave. Maybe you can go open up another hospital.’

I said, ‘I’m not going anywhere. I have 15 years left on my contract. You can’t tell me how to practice veterinary medicine. That’s my job, so get out.’ But they took my franchise anyway. They said if I didn’t go quietly, they would report me to the state board, because I was lowering my vaccine volume and they said it was against the law. And so they did. They reported me to the Connecticut State Board of Veterinary Medicine.”

Buck the System? You’ll Be Handcuffed to a Stretcher and Taken to a Psych Ward

Mars/Banfield sent a letter to all 5,000 of Dr. Robb’s clients stating that their pets weren’t protected (immunized against disease).  So Dr. Robb contacted his clients as well, and recommended they have their pets titer tested to show they were protected.  That’s when the strong-arming really escalated.

“They put armed guards in front of all the PetSmarts in Connecticut,” Dr. Robb explains. (Banfields are located inside PetSmart stores.) “Two sets of armed guards, one paid for by PetSmart, and one paid for by Mars. They made a big scene and tried to blame it on me.”

The first time he attempted to visit his practice, Dr. Robb was handcuffed to a stretcher and taken to a psychiatric ward.

“The second time, they arrested me,” he says. “I’m just trying to hand out literature to do a titer and not revaccinate the dog without doing that, because I knew my pets were protected. I had done titers and I knew it.

It ended up in federal court. They lied to the judge and said, ‘We were offering titers.’ They did everything they could not to do a titer. They injured so many pets, some died, because they revaccinated all of them. It was part of a cover-up. I was vaccinating correctly and they didn’t want anybody to see that their pets had immunity.

The fight with Mars was in front of the state veterinary board, who had copies of all the scientific articles I had collected on vaccines, because I provided them to them. They told me they didn’t care about science. These are veterinarians and they don’t care about science? They said I broke the law. Even if I have to kill my patients, I have to obey the law. I said, ‘You guys are crazy. I mean, you’re crazy.’

This is the state of veterinary medicine today. We have mandated rabies laws, when instead we could take a simple blood test and find out that these pets don’t need the shot. We veterinarians are in bondage now, forced to injure our patients. Then you’ve got Mars coming in and trying to control veterinarians as their resource.

Karen, I thank God you’re standing up. I thank God other veterinarians are standing up, because most veterinarians want to do the right thing, but they’re scared to death about their license and repercussions.”

A Movement to Return Morality to the Veterinary Profession

I received a rabies vaccine at the age of 13 because I was getting into wildlife rehabilitation.  When I entered veterinary school and told them I’d been vaccinated at 13, they insisted I be titered rather than automatically re-vaccinated.  So why is it perfectly okay to vaccinate pets against rabies over and over and over throughout their lives?  I think we know why.  It’s the almighty dollar. Vaccinations are a major source of income for veterinary practices.

But the good news is the nightmare Dr. Robb has lived through has turned him into an agent for change.  He and his wife used their retirement savings to start the Protect the Pets movement in 2006.  “It was never to make money,” says Dr. Robb, “but to bring morality back into veterinary medicine.”

“I already had a track record of trying to stand up for the rights of pets, the people who own them, and veterinarians. Now suddenly I’m talking to a worldwide audience.

Because I was willing to put my license on the line and all my resources to do what I love best, which is be a veterinarian and protect my patients, this has become a movement of the heart. People are joining me. People like you, Karen, and all the people who have been fighting these issues for years. We’ve reached a tipping point and now we’re working together.

Before, we were isolated. The people whose pets were being injured and dying were isolated. They had no voice. They were told it wasn’t the vaccination. Even though four hours after the shot, their pet was suddenly blind and seizuring, it wasn’t the shot. It just was coincidental blindness, coincidental epilepsy.

Or a pet began bleeding internally and was diagnosed with hemolytic anemia. Or there were suddenly tumors on the right hip at the injection site. ‘It wasn’t the shot,’ they were told. Then one day they realized there was a public figure out there saying, ‘It WAS the shot.'”

Pet Parents Are Coming Forward to Tell Their Stories

Veterinarians have no legal obligation to report adverse reactions to vaccines, so there’s no real database.  The veterinary industry, which includes the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), seems to have no interest in creating one.  It’s deeply disturbing.  These are veterinarians.  How can they not be concerned about the adverse effects of pet vaccines?

But pet parents are coming forward to tell their stories, and they are the ones driving this change, because they’ve had enough.  As veterinarians, Dr. Robb and I and others are working to amend the rabies laws and bring morality back to a profession gone wrong where vaccines are concerned.

“Corporations like Mars, who think it’s okay to victimize pets for profits, are going to be rudely awakened, because we, the people, control them,” says Dr. Robb. “Because we spend money and we decide where we’re going to spend it. We have the power here. We just have to unite. That’s the bottom line here. We are uniting now.”

Why Is This Life-Threatening Vaccine Reaction Kept Hidden?

According to Dr. Robb, one of the best-kept vaccine secrets is the incidence of anaphylaxis.  I personally know people who’ve adopted or purchased a puppy and had the pup die of anaphylactic shock on the exam table at the first vet visit immediately after receiving a vaccination.  Invariably, the veterinarian who gave the shot tells the devastated owner the vaccine had nothing to do with the puppy’s death. It’s asinine.

Dr. Rob references a 2005 Purdue University study that addressed adverse events occurring within the first 72 hours after vaccinating dogs.  One of the study’s chief investigators was a Banfield medical director named Dr. Karen Faunt.  The study showed that the incidence of adverse reactions is higher in smaller pets, and multiple vaccines cause more reactions.  However, the study’s conclusion was that vaccines are safe.

During a legal deposition, Dr. Robb’s attorney asked Faunt: “Why didn’t you include in your study the dogs that died of anaphylaxis?  Certainly those reactions occurred within the first 72 hours?”

“I’m telling you, her jaw dropped,” says Dr. Robb. “Because it turns out there were at least six animals that died of anaphylaxis and they didn’t include them in the study. Instead, they concluded the vaccines were safe.”

Become a Partner in the Protect the Pets Movement

“Even as we’re talking here today,” says Dr. Rob, “there are pets out there being injured, dying, and being given injections they don’t need. It’s happening right this minute, and there’s no time to waste. Lives depend on education, encouraging each other, and taking action steps such as contacting state legislators. You can look me up on Facebook, John Robb, for more information.”

You can also reach Dr. Robb at 203-731-4251, or contact him through his Protect the Pets website.

“People think I’m so popular that I can’t talk to people,” he says. “Baloney. This movement is about you, and I want to talk to you. I want to know what your situation is. We need to work together. I need to hear people’s voices, understand their situations, and see if they want to be part of the movement.”

The first goal is to amend existing rabies laws.  There are 200 million pet parents and advocates, and 40,000 members of the veterinary establishment.  As Dr. Robb points out, WE should be dictating to THEM and not the other way around.  As pet owners, we make the decisions for the animals in our care.

An Important Distinction: We’re NOT Anti-Vaxxers

It’s important to point out that we’re not anti-vaccines.  There’s a huge difference between too many vaccinations and protective vaccinations.  We’re not advocating never vaccinating your pet under any circumstances.  We’re advocating the smart use of minimal vaccines to create immunity against disease in puppies and kittens, with follow-up titers for the lifetime of the pet.

I think it’s really important to make that distinction.  There’s a big difference between creating protective immunity in a pet and creating vaccine toxicosis.  What Dr. Robb and I are talking about is the danger of over-vaccinating dogs and cats.

Some veterinary vaccines are substantially more toxic than others.  It’s your job as your pet’s advocate to know enough about the subject to make the best decisions for your animal companion.  And if your vet doesn’t respect your opinion and point of view, find a new vet.

“The job of veterinarians is to vaccinate to produce immunity with the smallest volume and the smallest number of vaccines to produce that immunity,” says Dr. Robb. “Once the pet is immune, we’re done.”

Titer Tests in Lieu of Re-vaccinations

Once an animal develops immunity to rabies, parvo and distemper, it’s easily measured by a titer.  Any positive titer means the pet is immune.

“I was speaking to Dr. Ronald Schultz yesterday, and he’s helping us,” says Dr. Robb. “He’s in favor of titers, as you know. He’s been trying to put this approach forward for a long time. He pointed out that rabies is the worst of all the vaccines in terms of toxic reactions, so it’s extremely important to deal with the rabies laws first.”

According to Dr. Robb, about 20 to 25 percent of veterinarians are now doing distemper/parvo titers in lieu of vaccinating.  But most vets still won’t do a rabies titer because rabies vaccines are the only vaccines mandated by law in all 50 states.  A positive rabies titer isn’t acceptable in lieu of re-vaccination.

Many vets charge an arm and a leg for titer testing, which is unfortunate.  Dr. Robb currently charges $32 for a rabies titer and $54 for all three (rabies, parvo and distemper for dogs).  Some vets will do a blood draw for under $10, others charge much more.  Dr. Robb suggests finding a vet who will do it for a reasonable price.  The cost of titer tests will decrease once they become the rule rather than the exception.

Putting the Heart Back in the Practice of Veterinary Medicine

In addition to helping pets and pet parents, Dr. Robb is also very passionate about helping veterinarians who are in bondage to the current system.

“We want to free them to practice veterinary medicine from a heart perspective,” he explains. “That’s also what this movement is about. The suicide rate among veterinarians is four times higher than the general population. It’s because they have to go against their heart and injure animals.”

I so appreciate Dr. Robb’s passion.  I’m heartbroken over what has happened to him, but grateful for the beautiful gift that has resulted from his difficulties.  He has blown the topic of over-vaccination wide open in the veterinary community, and I’m forever thankful because I’m not sure it would have happened without him.

“One more comment about the worldwide thing,” says Dr. Robb. “It’s worldwide, because we may set the standards in this country, and then other countries will adopt them. There are pets in Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan and all over the globe. We want to reach all of them. We’ll start Protect the Pets England and Protect the Pets France. We are going to go wherever pets are being victimized. We’re going to set them free. That’s what this is all about.”

Dr. Robb and Rodney Habib of Planet Paws put together a short information video of Dr. Robb testifying about over-vaccination and overdosing issues in pets.  You can view the video here at Planet Paws.  Thank you, Dr. John Robb!


Visit Dr. Becker’s Pet Video Library

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These Must-Have Tests Could Save Your Pet’s Life

By Dr. Becker
YouTube video here

Although your veterinarian can learn a great deal by performing a hands-on physical examination of your pet, there are some very important aspects of his or her health that can only be evaluated with diagnostic tests.

Some people think if their pet looks healthy and there’s no change in behavior or appetite, then blood tests and other diagnostics are unnecessary.  But this isn’t true for pets any more than it is for people.

Almost all metabolic and organ issues that plague pets start with biochemical changes that can be picked up in blood tests weeks to years before an animal becomes sick enough to exhibit symptoms.  If you wait until your pet is showing signs of disease, it may be too late to reverse the illness or cure it.

Reactive Versus Proactive Pet Care

Many problems brewing beneath the surface don’t produce symptoms until the disease is full-blown and, heaven forbid, even fatal.  Waiting for symptoms to appear is a reactive approach.

Many of us in the holistic veterinary community have clients who think they’re taking a holistic approach to their pet’s health when they’re actually being reactive.

For example, they wait until their dog is coughing to ask for a heartworm test, or until their cat is drinking tons of water and urinating constantly before they ask for a kidney function test.

Allowing pets to get sick before identifying significant health issues isn’t a holistic approach.  The paradigm shift holistic vets are trying to encourage is a move away from reactive medicine toward proactive medicine.  Proactive veterinarians focus on identifying lifestyle obstacles before disease occurs.

Proactive Pet Care Saves Lives

If we’re capable of identifying disease early and stopping it from occurring, why wouldn’t we?  Taking a proactive approach gives us the opportunity to address minor biochemical changes early on, and prevent them from becoming major health issues.

We can prevent organ failure if we know the body is leaning in that direction.  We can prevent irreversible degeneration that robs pets of good health and long lives.  But we have to know it’s occurring in order to address it, and we won’t know if we don’t check.

I’ve heard countless times from clients that, “My dog was fine until he suddenly got congestive heart failure,” or “My cat was fine until I took her to the vet yesterday and she was diagnosed with kidney failure.”  The truth is those conditions didn’t develop overnight.  They occurred slowly, over time.

The dog with congestive heart failure and the kitty with kidney failure have been brewing those conditions for quite a while.  But because the pet parents and veterinarian weren’t regularly monitoring the health of those pets, serious organ degeneration occurred right under their noses.

Even if your vet isn’t proactive, you can be.  Ask him or her to measure your pet’s vital organ function with the appropriate diagnostic tests.  You’re entitled to a copy of the results, which you can review and keep track of from one year to the next, taking note of any changes that occur.

If you have no choice but to visit a reactive versus a proactive veterinarian, you’ll need to act as your pet’s advocate.  Don’t ever be afraid to speak up on behalf of your animal companion.

Keep in mind that most abnormal test results were once normal.  It’s how quickly we catch the change from normal to abnormal that can mean the difference between fixing a problem early, or potentially losing a pet to a disease we could have identified early on.

“I wish I would have known,” is something no proactive vet ever wants to say or hear.  Put another way, “I wish I would have known,” means, “I wish I would have checked.”

We have the ability to check — to monitor your pet’s health — and that’s what I’m encouraging you to do.  This is especially true for senior pets and pets with chronic health challenges.

Fecal Exam and Urinalysis

If your dog goes on lots of outdoor adventures, I recommend once or twice yearly fecal exams to check for signs of intestinal disease and parasites.  Indoor house cats who have no exposure to potentially infectious poop from other animals are off the hook for fecal exams.

A yearly urinalysis (or more frequently if your pet is older or prone to infections or other problems involving the urinary tract) is used to assess the overall health of your pet’s urinary tract, including the kidneys and bladder, and to check for other health indicators, such as glucose regulation and liver function.

A complete urinalysis measures the function of the nephrons in the kidneys and gives information about your pet’s metabolic and fluid status.  The test is also used to evaluate substances in the urine that might indicate an underlying disease process.

Blood Tests

Blood tests help your veterinarian proactively monitor your pet’s internal organ health, and also help to determine causes of illnesses accurately, safely and quickly.  Blood tests also allow your veterinarian to monitor the progress of medical treatments.

However, while these tests indicate where your pet’s body may be having a problem, they don’t tell us how or why the problem is occurring.  It’s also important to know that currently there are no blood tests that definitively detect cancer, and not every organ has a specific serum marker for cancer.

Complete blood count (CBC).  The CBC is the most common blood test performed on pets and people.  A CBC gives information on hydration status, anemia, infection, the blood’s clotting ability and the ability of your pet’s immune system to respond.

The CBC is essential for pets with fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums or loss of appetite.  Also, in the event that your pet needs surgery, a CBC can detect bleeding disorders and other unseen abnormalities.  The results of a complete blood count include:

HCT (hematocrit) measures the percentage of red blood cells to detect anemia and dehydration

Hb and MCHC (hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration) measure the oxygen-carrying pigments of red blood cells.

WBC (white blood cell count) measures the body’s immune cells, including lymphocytes, monocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils and basophils. Increases or decreases indicate disease or infection.

Platelets measure cells that form blood clots.

Retics (reticulocytes) are immature red blood cells.  High levels indicate regenerative anemia; low levels indicate non-regenerative anemia.

Blood chemistry profile.  Blood chemistries are common blood serum tests that evaluate your pet’s organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels and more.

They are very important in evaluating the health of older pets, pets undergoing anesthesia, pets with vomiting and diarrhea, pets that have had toxin exposure, pets on long-term medications and pets with endocrine or internal organ disease.  Blood serum measures include:

ALB (albumin) is a serum protein that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage and intestinal, liver and kidney disease.
ALP (alkaline phosphatase) elevations may indicate liver damage, Cushing’s disease, active bone growth in young pets or arthritis or bone degeneration in older pets.
ALT (alanine aminotransferase) is a sensitive indicator of active liver damage but does not indicate the cause.
A bile acids test is a paired serum sample taken before and after meals, which measures how well the liver is able to recycle bile acids.
Amylase is a digestive enzyme for carbohydrates, and lipase (LIP) is a digestive enzyme for fats. Elevations may indicate pancreatitis or other pancreatic dysfunction. The definitive test for pancreatitis is the PLI (pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity) test.
AST (aspartate aminotransferase) increases may indicate liver, heart or skeletal muscle damage.
BUN (blood urea nitrogen) indicates kidney function. An increased blood level is called azotemia and can be caused by kidney, liver or heart disease, urethral obstruction, shock or dehydration.
Ca (calcium) deviations can indicate a variety of diseases. Tumors, hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease and low albumin are just a few of the conditions that alter serum calcium.
CHOL (cholesterol) is used to supplement a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing’s disease and diabetes mellitus. Fortunately, since pets aren’t plagued with arteriosclerosis like humans are, even a significant elevation in cholesterol doesn’t result in blocked arteries, stroke or heart attack.
CL (chloride) is an electrolyte often lost with vomiting and Addison’s disease. Elevations often indicate disease. If your pet has both sodium and chloride abnormalities, you should ask your veterinarian to check for adrenal disease.
CREA (creatinine) is a sensitive marker of kidney function and perfusion. This test helps distinguish between kidney and non-kidney causes of elevated BUN. BUN and creatinine go hand in hand. There’s also a third test called the symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) test that can also identify early kidney disease.
GLOB (globulin) is a blood protein that often increases with chronic inflammation and decreases with chronic infections and a weakened immune system.
GLU (glucose) is blood sugar. Elevated levels may indicate diabetes mellitus or persistent hyperglycemia as the result of a carbohydrate-based diet. Low levels (below 40) can cause collapse, seizures or coma.
K (potassium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea or excessive urination. Increased levels may indicate kidney failure, Addison’s disease, dehydration, urethral obstruction or inappropriate doses of certain drugs. High levels can cause heart problems.
Na (sodium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, kidney and Addison’s disease. This test helps indicate hydration status.
PHOS (phosphorus) elevations are often associated with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism and bleeding disorders.
TBIL (total bilirubin) elevations may indicate liver or hemolytic disease. This test helps identify bile duct problems, gall bladder stasis and certain types of anemia.
TP (total protein) indicates hydration status and provides additional information about the liver, kidneys and infectious disease.
T4 (thyroxine) is a thyroid hormone. Decreased levels often signal hypothyroidism in dogs, while high levels indicate hyperthyroidism, commonly diagnosed in cats. A complete thyroid panel is necessary to accurately assess thyroid health.

Tests for Tick-Borne Disease

If you live in an area where ticks are abundant, I recommend asking your veterinarian for an annual or even twice-a-year SNAP-4Dx test or an Accuplex test to check for tick-borne diseases, including heartworm, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis.  Regardless of what you do to manage fleas and ticks on your pets, research shows mosquitoes can transmit tick-borne diseases, and none of us can completely prevent mosquito bites.

Especially in the midwest and the east coast of the U.S., it’s a good idea early in the year and at the end of tick season to check for tick-borne illnesses, which thankfully are fairly easy to treat and cure when they are identified before they create chronic disease.

Titer Testing and Vaccinations

I also recommend titer testing in lieu of automatic re-vaccination for all diseases other than rabies, which of course is required by law.  Titer tests are simple blood tests you can ask your veterinarian to do that provide information about your pet’s current immunity to the diseases he’s been vaccinated against in the past.

Immunologist Dr. Ron Schultz states that any positive titer result — any number above zero — means your pet’s immune system is capable of mounting an effective response and no vaccine is needed.

Some of my clients say, “Hey, I think it’s just cheaper to vaccinate.  My dog has only had one vaccine.  What’s the harm in doing it?”  My response is it’s much safer to titer test, even in pets who’ve only had one vaccination, because chances are they’re protected for life and don’t need additional vaccines.

If the titer is low, I will give the vaccine at no charge.  I give a single parvo or distemper vaccine if a dog’s titer is low.  I don’t give combination vaccines.  In 19 years, I’ve never given a free vaccine because none of my patients have titered low after their puppy shots. So this is something to keep in mind when it comes to re-vaccinating your pet.

Additional Recommendations

Three other tests to consider are a fasting insulin test, a vitamin D test and a dysbiosis test.

Fasting insulin test.  In humans, one of the best predictors of longevity is the fasting insulin level.  Very few veterinarians measure this, but I think it’s an underutilized test that can evaluate a patient’s metabolic health and fat-burning adaptedness.  Michigan State Diagnostic Lab runs this test for $18.  In my opinion, it’s one of the best things you can do to evaluate your pet’s ability to manage metabolic diseases, including cancer.

Vitamin D test.  Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic, and we’re beginning to learn that deficiency in pets may rival that of humans.  Dogs and cats can’t make vitamin D from sunlight so they must get it from their diet.

Unfortunately, the synthetic vitamin D used in many commercial pet foods can be difficult for dogs and cats to absorb and unless impeccably balanced, many homemade diets are deficient in vitamin D.  Vitamin D testing is an add-on to routine bloodwork, but you can ask your veterinarian to include it.

Dysbiosis test.  We know that 70 percent of the immune system is located in your dog’s or cat’s gut, and many pets suffer from gut-related disorders that create malabsorption, maldigestion and ultimately, a weakened and dysfunctional immune system.

Identifying and addressing a leaky or dysbiotic gut is critically important in re-establishing good health, especially in debilitated, chronically ill and aging pets.  The Texas A&M Gastrointestinal Laboratory has just released a test to measure the level of dysbiosis in the canine gut.

The takeaway today is that monitoring a pet’s internal environment is actually quite empowering, because we’re able to address minor changes before disease occurs, and in many cases we can prevent degeneration, which is always our goal as proactive pet parents and veterinarians.

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Are We Over-Vaccinating Our Pets?

Did you know that, unlike most other veterinary drugs, the dosages for vaccines are not based on the size of the animal?  It’s scary but true.  A 5-pound cat, for instance, may receive the same dosage of a rabies vaccine as a 150-pound Great Dane.  Instead of body weight, these vaccines are based on the minimum immunizing dose.

Over-vaccinating animals can not only make them sick, but can cause potentially fatal autoimmune reactions.

“Over-stimulation of the immune system can be problematic,” veterinarian Deborah Wolf told KOMO. “There are (also) potentials for — especially in cats — injection site cancers. We want to protect them without over-stimulating the immune system, and running them down and creating new problems.”

Rabies vaccination laws for animals vary by state.  Most states do not allow veterinarians to give partial doses of the rabies vaccine based on a pet’s size or health.  Until 2011, rabies booster vaccinations were usually given annually to pets.  But that year the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) updated its guidelines to recommend that core vaccines be given to pets only every three years.


Why do some veterinarians continue to put the health of pets at risk by unnecessarily vaccinating them every year?

“A lot of people do what they told,” Dr. Dale Porcher, of Shores Animal Clinic in West Palm Beach, Fla., told CBS12.  “I think a lot of people have not stood back and questioned why are we doing this.”

Rabies and other vaccinations also happen to be a major source of steady profit not only for veterinary practices but for the Big Pharma companies, like Pfizer, that manufacture them.  Last year (2016), pet owners in the U.S. spent $5.81 billion on vaccinations, CBS12 reports.

Yet some veterinarians who don’t want to over-vaccinate their patients are being punished for taking measures not to do so.

Dr. John Robb, who practices in Connecticut, was put on probation Feb. 1 by the State Board of Veterinary Medicine for reducing the dosage in rabies vaccinations for small dogs. From now until 2042, he cannot vaccinate any animals for rabies.

“You’re telling me that if there’s a law that would force me to kill my patient, I would have to do it?” he told News 12 Connecticut.  “You know what the state board said?  ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘You are crazy.’”

Is it safe to give smaller pets lower dosages of vaccines?  Dr. Lisa Boyer, who practices in Loomis, Calif., doesn’t think so.

“Immunologists say vaccines are not dose-dependent, that you need enough antigens to stimulate the immune system,” she said.  “It’s not a weight-versus-dose question.  My 7-year-old [child] and I get the same vaccine.”

VIDEO below: “Vets Are Now Challenging the Government”



To help prevent pets from getting sick from being over-vaccinated — and to prevent veterinarians like Dr. Robb from getting punished for trying to keep pets healthy — Connecticut state representatives Pam Staneski and Fred Camillo introduced the bill H.B. 5659 in January, 2017.

The new law would allow vets to adjust vaccine dosages and skip rabies booster shots in the best interest and health of an animal.  The bill recommends a titer test — a simple blood test — that can determine if a pet is adequately immunized.

If H.B. 5659 manages to get passed, Connecticut will become the first state to allow animals to be tested for rabies antibodies instead of being automatically vaccinated every few years.


It’s important to ask your veterinarian about the vaccinations your pet is receiving.

If your vet recommends annual vaccinations even though your pet has no health or other issues that would require them, you might want to let your vet know about the latest AAHA vaccination guidelines – or perhaps find another vet.

As Dr. Porcher told CBS12, your veterinarian’s primary concern should be “your pet’s health and not their profit margin.”

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Titer: Rather Than Over-Vaccinate


Shockingly, many pet owners have no idea!

A titer test (pronounced tight-errr) is a laboratory or in-house veterinary test measuring the existence and level of antibodies (necessary to fight off disease) in your pet’s blood.  Basically, it’s a test that will tell you whether or not you actually need to vaccinate your pet.

It’s also super useful when making a decision about vaccinating a pet with an unknown vaccination history, or for determining if pets have received immunity from vaccination.

Why is this so important?

Because of what can happen if you over-vaccinate your pet!  “Vaccinosis”, the name for the chronic disease, is caused by continued use of vaccines.  These symptoms mimic the original disease in parts.

According to the guide “Canine Nutrigenomics” by world-renowned veterinarian immunologist Dr. Jean Dodds and Diana R. Laverdure:

“Vaccines have achieved many important benefits for companion animals, including:

•Saved more animals’ lives than any other medical advance.

•Significantly reduced canine distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus.

•Significantly reduced feline pan leukopenia.

•Eliminated rabies in Europe.

However after spending many years monitoring the results of vaccinosis, those in the animal healthcare field now have a duty to re-examine and improve the current vaccine protocols for the health and safety of their patients.  This is especially true for animals with compromised immune systems, since vaccines represent one more stressor that could prove to be the tipping point between health and disease.

Side effects from dog vaccinations can occur anywhere from instantly up to several weeks or months later.  Vaccines can even cause susceptibility to chronic diseases that appear much later in a dog’s life (Dodd, 2001).

Severe and fatal adverse reactions include:

•Susceptibility to infections.

•Neurological disorders and encephalitis.

•Aberrant behavior, including unprovoked aggression.

•Vaccines are linked to seizures.  Distemper, parvovirus, rabies and, presumably, other vaccines have been linked with poly neuropathy, a nerve disease that involves inflammation of several nerves. (Dodds,2001) “

The most basic method for a titer is where your pet’s blood is drawn and sent away for testing.  It ranges anywhere from $150 to $200.  The most affordable method is the new “in house” testing procedure.  This test is performed at the vet clinic and it takes about 20 mins to get the results.  The price range is anywhere from $60 to $80!

According to truth4pets.org, “Although titer testing may cost somewhat more than vaccination in the short run, it is a bargain long term.  Titers do not have to be repeated yearly or even every three years.  By testing rather than vaccinating, you avoid the risk of adverse reactions from unnecessary vaccines and the accompanying cost of treatment.”

“The most useful time to run a titer test is after your youngster has received her initial series of vaccinations.  Especially if you’ve limited that series to just one or two vaccinations, the last being after 16 weeks of age.  The odds are you’ve just conferred lifetime immunity to your youngster.

If you want to know how effective your vaccinations were in conferring immunity (i.e. did vaccination = immunization?), ask your vet to run a titer test a few weeks later.” – Dr.Will Falconer/ Dogs Naturally Magazine

And there you have it. Now you know.

Remember: there is a huge difference between “not vaccinating” and over-vaccinating your pet.  Unfortunately some are very quick to pull the “Anti-Vaxxxer trigger” these days, the second a vaccine article is released.

With most vet clinics today vaccinating pets every six months for the rest of these pets’ lives, does this not warrant thought or research?

Rodney Habib – Pet Nutrition Blogger

More info: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/titer-testing-dog/

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Good News on the Horizon for Rabies Vaccines?

Pet vaccines

By Dr. Becker

I’m very happy to be able to share a bit more encouraging news regarding rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats.

Very recently I reported the results of a study performed by Kansas State University (KSU) that compared “anamnestic” antibody responses of dogs and cats with current vs. out-of-date rabies vaccinations.  The animals in the study were given rabies boosters (“booster” is simply another name for a re-vaccination), and then given antibody titer tests to see if the group with current vaccinations had higher titers than the group with out-of-date vaccinations.

The study authors’ conclusion:

“Results indicated that dogs with out-of-date vaccination status were not inferior in their antibody response following booster rabies vaccination, compared with dogs with current vaccination status.

Findings supported immediate booster vaccination followed by observation for 45 days of dogs and cats with an out-of-date vaccination status that are exposed to rabies, as is the current practice for dogs and cats with current vaccination status.”1

What this shows is there is no health-related reason to mandate long-term quarantine or euthanasia for dogs and cats with expired rabies vaccinations that are exposed to a rabid animal.

Michael C. Moore, lead study author, hopes the study findings help clarify and shape the current guidelines for pets that are exposed to the rabies virus:

“‘If you relate this to human health, humans are primed with an initial vaccination series and then have neutralizing antibodies checked from time to time,’ he said.

‘If those antibodies fall below a certain level, we’re given a booster.  While the vaccines are licensed for a certain number of years, the immune system doesn’t sync to a date on the calendar and shut down because it reached that particular date.'”

These study results were published in mid-January 2015, and in August, KSU announced that scientists at the university’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (KSVDL) had “modified a test that measures an animal’s immune response to the rabies virus, a change that will cost pet owners less money and may help reduce the number of yearly vaccines for pets.”2

What they’re talking about is a rabies titer test.  It’s important to note that state and local laws mandating one or three-year rabies re-vaccinations for dogs and cats are based on zero scientific evidence the “boosters” are actually necessary.

The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association Supports the Work of the KSU Rabies Lab

A few days after seeing the mid-August KSU news release, I received a note from my good friend and veterinary vaccine authority, Dr. Jean Dodds.  Dr. Dodds and I are fellow members of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA), and she is Chairperson of the AHVMA Communications Committee.

Dr. Dodds forwarded an AHVMA press release titled “Changes Sought to Rabies Vaccination Laws Based on Scientific Research.”  As it turns out, the AHVMA has been working in support of Kansas State University on the rabies antibody titer test project.  This makes all kinds of sense, since it is the holistic and integrative veterinary community that has been leading the charge against over-vaccinating pets.

Here is Dr. Dodds’ press release in its entirety:

“The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) became the first national veterinary organization to support efforts by Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (KSVDL) to improve rabies testing with a modified screening test to determine if veterinary patients need to receive rabies booster vaccinations to maintain protective immunity.  The AHVMA and its members have long expressed concern over animal vaccination practices.  While vaccinations provide important protection against a wide number of serious diseases, they can also cause adverse effects ranging from minor discomfort, autoimmune disorders, and even death on rare occasions.

Veterinarians can offer serum antibody titers, a form of blood testing which is helpful in predicting the need for revaccination.  This practice is helpful to reduce the potential dangers to pets from receiving unneeded vaccinations.  Currently, laws regulating rabies vaccination are set locally and statewide and may not allow for the use of blood antibody testing to avoid mandatory rabies revaccination.  To comply with the law, veterinarians and pet owners vaccinate at prescribed intervals regardless of existing immunity.  This practice was developed to protect public health in a time when vaccine titers were not offered by veterinarians, but it increases the risk of vaccine adverse-events for our dog and cat patients.

Recent research at the Rabies Challenge Fund suggests immunity from rabies vaccination lasts much longer than the usual one to three year interval required by current laws.  This study added significant evidence that we may be over vaccinating for rabies in our pet population.  Public health officials have expressed concern that reducing vaccination for rabies could increase the incidence of this deadly disease.  To date, legislatures and public health agencies have resisted changing rabies vaccination laws to reflect current knowledge about rabies vaccine duration of protection.

Rabies vaccinations can be associated with a number of significant, well-documented adverse effects.  These include localized swelling and pain, fever, chronic hair loss, ulcerative dermatitis, encephalitis, vasculitis, seizures, vaccine-related cancer, and anaphylactic shock.  Pet guardians whose animals have suffered such illness are very concerned about revaccination.   If they fail to keep the vaccination current based upon current legal requirements, they may be penalized in several ways depending upon existing legal statutes.

KSVDL recently announced the modification of the established rabies antibody test (Rapid Fluorescent Focus Inhibition Test) to rapidly screen immunity to rabies virus.  Once properly vaccinated, such testing can be used to identify if the individual has an antibody level indicative of protection from rabies.  If an animal undergoes testing and is found to have adequate protection, the AHVMA supports reform of public health laws that require automatic revaccination.  Such booster vaccinations may not be medically necessary.  This new testing procedure allows screening for continued rabies vaccine response.  This allows veterinarians and pet guardians to effectively decide upon a path that reduces risks of an adverse effect for individual animals while protecting any public health concerns.

In 2015, AHVMA participated as the KSVDL Rabies Lab conducted a survey to gather data from members about their policies regarding dog and cat vaccinations, including rabies vaccination.  AHVMA respondents reported:

  • 92 percent gave rabies vaccinations.
  • 76 percent routinely offered titers for core vaccines after completion of the initial vaccine series
  • 34 percent offered titers for rabies after completion of the initial 2-dose series
  • 75 percent would measure rabies titers if the Compendium changes its stance to equate out-of-date rabies vaccine status the same way as they do animals current on rabies vaccines

Until legal changes occur, animal guardians and veterinarians must comply with existing legal statutes.  Rabies serum antibody titering can be performed for information, documentation, and to satisfy export and import requirements, but this does not replace the legal requirement for rabies booster vaccinations.

It is the hope of both organizations that through cooperation and advancements in science we can illustrate our dedication to better health and safety for people and animals.  As science advances we must update public policy to reflect our new understandings.  This new testing is a great example of such cooperative efforts.”

For additional important information on rabies and rabies titers, please read the final few sections of “Changes Sought to Rabies Vaccination Laws Based on Scientific Research” by Dr. Dodds.

Will Affordable Antibody Titer Tests One Day Replace Automatic Re-vaccination?

The KSU news release concedes:

“Yearly vaccines can sometimes create other health concerns.  In cats, for example, yearly vaccinations have been linked to feline injection site sarcomas.  Kansas State University’s titer test for rabies could save a pet from one more injection at the yearly exam.”3

The press release goes on to say that a titer test for rabies at KSU costs $30, and a test for rabies plus three additional core vaccines for either a cat or dog runs just $50.

These very reasonable titer test costs aren’t the norm, as many of my clients are quoted $200 to $350 by their vets for a canine distemper or parvovirus titer test.  It is my fervent hope that not only will antibody titer tests become the first choice in lieu of re-vaccination for core diseases in cats and dogs, but that the cost of those tests will become affordable for the majority of pet owners.

Nov 5 2013
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Titers Testing – Tell Me More


Protective vaccines are an integral part of the wellness care for our dogs.  There are risks and potential repercussions to over and under vaccinating.  As a result, many pet owners and veterinarians are using blood testing/vaccination titers to help determine the need for booster vaccinations and to determine the level of protection.
Vaccine titers are the measure of the antibodies in the blood stream to a particular disease.  Each disease is tested separately.  Vaccine titer testing can be done by several different blood tests (VN-virus neutralization, HI-hemagglutination inhibition, ELISA-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay).
HI and VN are the gold standard of testing and are done only through a few labs and veterinary schools.
A protective level is considered a titer of: Distemper >= 1:32 by VN
A protective level is considered a titer of: Parvo >= 1:80 by HI
The ELISA test is considered a screening test and is more economical and more readily available.  ELISA testing has been evaluated to confirm that a positive result is equivalent to the protective titer level as measured by VN or HI.
Titer Testing: A Crash Course
June 7 2012
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Titers: What Do They Mean?
June 2013
Comment by Will Falconer, DVM (holistic) – Austin TX
Well said, and what I’d written about years ago on alt4animals.com (updated version: http://vitalanimal.com/fallacy-of-titer-tests/).  Key take away is to not misuse the information that a titer test gives you: a low titer does NOT equal a low immunity in a multiply-vaccinated dog.  Useful if you know the limits of the test and use it judiciously.  Dangerous if you see a falling titer later in life and think, “Oh oh, Spot is no longer immune — I’d better get more vaccinations!”  It seems many respected experts in vet medicine still don’t get this point.
*  *  *  *  *  *  *
Fallacy of Titer Tests
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Titer Test: Don’t Vaccinate Your Dog Unnecessarily
October 22 2008
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More On Vaccine Titers
July 11 2012
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Take the Titer Test
Be certain your veterinarian sends blood samples to a major professional veterinary laboratory such as Antech Diagnostics (www.antechdiagnostics.com), Idexx Laboratories (www.idexx.com), Vita-Tech Laboratories (www.vita-tech.com), or one of the major university veterinary laboratories, including Cornell, Colorado State, Michigan State, Tufts, and Texas A&M.
*  *  *  *  *  *  *
How do you get your dog’s titers tested?

Many major labs and universities perform titer tests.  Your vet likely has a favorite lab and can draw blood and send it for testing for you.  Note: some veterinarians resist performing these tests and, as a result, charge more than the going rate at other practices.  Although titer testing may cost somewhat more than vaccination in the short run, it is a bargain long term.  Titers do not have to be repeated yearly or even every three years.  By testing rather than vaccinating, you avoid the risk of adverse reactions from unnecessary vaccines and the accompanying cost of treatment.  The more expensive rabies titer need be performed only under special circumstances (such as international travel) or to determine immunity of animals with rabies vaccination exemptions.

Large commercial and university labs perform titer testing.  Prices vary.

Jean Dodds, DVM, is a highly respected veterinary hematologist as well as a pioneer against over-vaccination.
She performs titer tests at her Hemopet lab and interprets results.
11561 Salinaz Avenue, Garden Grove, CA 92843
Phone: 714-891-2022 | Fax: 714-891-2123
The cost (subject to change without notice) is $52 for both distemper and parvo (tested together) and rabies for $98.  Add to that the cost of a blood draw from your vet and sending by mail.  Note: Most vets will send the results to any lab you specify.

Two inexpensive and quick in-clinic titer tests are now available at a growing number of practices.
VacciCheck for CDV, CPV-2, and CAV-2.  TiterCHEK®, determines antibody levels to Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and Canine Parvovirus (CPV) in canine serum or plasma samples.  For a comparison, read what WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines Group Chariman Michael J. Day has to say about the two tests.  Both provide results in about 20 minutes.

Both test kit systems have been validated independently and correlated with gold standard tests by a number of diagnostic laboratories: the TiterCHEK® system (manufactured by Synbiotics and now owned and distributed by Pfizer) and the VacciCheck system (produced by Biogal Laboratories).  TiterCHEK® provides a yes-no (protected or not protected) answer for CDV and CPV.  VacciCheck provides a semiquantitative score for serum antibody titres against CDV, CAV and CPV.

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A Comparison of Vaccination Protocols For Dogs
by Dr. Robert L. Rogers, CritterAdvocacy, Houston TX.
E-mail: drbob@critteradvocacy.org
*  *  *  *  *  *  *

The Dark Side of Pet Vaccination


Vaccinating Dogs: Has Your Vet Withheld the Facts?

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The following information on Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
is for reference only:


Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
College Station Laboratory
PO Box Drawer 3040
College Station TX  77841-3040

Phone 979.845.3414
Toll Free 888.646.5623
Fax 979.845.1794
After-hours emergency pager: 979.324.4652
If you have questions specific to client log-in services and support, please send a message to: support@tvmdl.tamu.edu.
All other questions can be addressed by calling 888.646.5623

Courier/GPS Address
1 Sippel Rd.
College Station, TX 77843
Driving DIRECTIONS to College Station Lab

Hours of Operation
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday morning specimen drop-off,  8 a.m. – 12 noon


The TVMDL College Station Lab at
1 Sippel Road
is located behind the Vet school, just off University Drive.
Driving DIRECTIONS to College Station Lab

Driving west down University Drive, go under the overpass at Wellborn Road.  At the next light, take a right onto Agronomy Road.  Take the first left off Agronomy Road into a parking lot.  Drive through this parking lot until it dead ends.  TVMDL will be the building on your right.  You may park in either of the two spaces marked “TVMDL Visitor Parking” or in one of the two spaces marked “Specimen Dropoff” in front of TVMDL.

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Parvovirus: This Can Kill Your Dog in Less Than 72 Hours

Canine Parvovirus

If you’re a dog owner, you probably know that canine parvovirus is a very serious disease seen primarily in unvaccinated puppies and immunocompromised dogs.  It is highly contagious and can be fatal.  A parvo infection causes hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, which is characterized by vomiting and bloody diarrhea.

The disease is easily transmittable from one dog to another through contact with infected feces.  It can also be spread by direct dog-to-dog contact, and contact with contaminated environments or people.  Parvo can infect kennels, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle sick dogs.  The virus is highly environmentally stable and can remain infectious in soil for at least a year.

Test Now Available to Detect New Parvo Strain 2c

As with most diseases, the sooner a case of parvo is identified, the better the dog’s chances for recovery.  In fact, survival can depend on how quickly and accurately the virus is diagnosed.

According to Richard Oberst, professor of diagnostic medicine and director of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory in the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, many tests currently available can’t detect the newer strains of parvovirus 2c, which has lead to false negative results in infected dogs.

The 2c strain is a newer, emerging strain of canine parvovirus that was first detected in Italy in 2000, and has also been reported in Asia, South America, and Western Europe.  It was first reported in the U.S. in 2006, and is now considered the most common strain of the disease. Parvovirus strain 2b is also prevalent in this country; the 2 and 2a strains are very rarely seen.

Fortunately, a new diagnostic test developed by researchers at KSU’s Diagnostic Laboratory can now identify the 2c strain of parvo.  It’s a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that detects all strains simultaneously and points to which strain or strains might be causing the infection.

Veterinarians can send samples for testing to:

Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
1800 Denison Ave.
Manhattan, KS 66506

Samples should be shipped in the same manner as all other diagnostic specimens.  For more information, DVMs can contact the laboratory at 866-512-5650 or visit www.ksvdl.org.

Symptoms and Treatment of a Parvovirus Infection

Parvo causes similar symptoms in all infected puppies and dogs, including vomiting, severe and often bloody diarrhea, lethargy, fever, and loss of appetite.  In dogs infected with the virus, dehydration is a constant concern and can occur very quickly as a result of the vomiting and diarrhea.  This is especially dangerous in very young puppies.

Most deaths from parvo occur within 48 to 72 hours after the onset of symptoms, which is why it’s critical that you take your dog to a veterinarian or emergency animal hospital immediately if he shows any signs of the infection.

There is no specific anti-viral therapy for parvovirus 2c (or any of the other strains).  Treatment of an infected dog consists of immediate delivery of supportive care, including replacing fluids and electrolytes, controlling vomiting and diarrhea, and preventing secondary infections.  Since the disease is so contagious, affected dogs should be isolated to minimize spread of infection.

The goal of treatment of parvovirus involves supporting your dog’s organs and body systems until her immune response can conquer the infection.  There are some homeopathic and herbal remedies that can be useful in treating the symptoms of parvo.  I recommend you work with a holistic veterinarian to determine what natural therapies are advisable for your sick pet, and consider hospitalization until your dog is stable.

Protecting Your Dog from Parvo Through Proper Vaccination

I think you’ll agree that the best way to treat a parvo infection is to prevent it from happening in the first place.  The parvovirus is nothing to fool around with.  It is very much alive and thriving in our environment, and it frequently ends the lives of dogs who become infected.

Over-vaccination is an ongoing problem in the veterinary community, but in my professional opinion, providing baseline protection (two puppy vaccines) against parvo provides your pet with lifetime immunity – and provides you with peace of mind.

The protocol I follow in vaccinating puppies against parvo (the vaccine protects against all strains) is a parvo/distemper shot before 11 weeks of age (ideally at 9 weeks), and a booster at about 14 weeks.  I then titer between 2 to 4 weeks after the second shot to insure the puppy was not only vaccinated, but immunized.  This is a core vaccine protocol that provides the basic minimum number of vaccines to protect against life threatening illnesses, without over vaccinating.

Since the job of vaccines is to stimulate antibody production, if a puppy is exposed to parvo (or another virus for which he’s been vaccinated), he has some level of circulating protection.  Vaccines stimulate antibody production, but it takes 10 to 14 days after the vaccination for adequate protection to occur.

A small percentage of dogs known as “non-responders” will not develop immunity and will remain susceptible to parvo for a lifetime.  This is very important information for dog owners to have, which is another reason I titer after the second round of shots.

In addition, some puppies retain a level of immunity from their mother’s milk that interferes with the effectiveness of vaccines.  Titering gives us the information we need to be confident the pup has been immunized effectively, or if he hasn’t, to determine why, and what further action should be taken.

I also always provide a homeopathic detox agent for newly vaccinated animals.

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The Pets Most Likely to Suffer from Vaccine Adverse Reactions

Story at-a-glance   {full story}

  • In the second half of a two-part interview, Dr. Becker talks with Dr. Ronald Schultz of the Rabies Challenge Fund about a variety of vaccine-related topics, including the mysterious rattlesnake vaccine, how it actually works, and for what snake in particular.
  • Dr. Becker and Dr. Schultz also discuss the Lyme disease vaccine, and under what circumstances it can prove beneficial, as well as the challenges of diagnosing leptospirosis and improvements in that vaccine in recent years.
  • Dr. Schultz also offers an excellent explanation of the various bordetella vaccines, what dogs really need them and how often, as well as what form of the vaccine he prefers.  He and Dr. Becker also discuss the pros and cons of the canine influenza vaccine.
  • Dr. Becker and Dr. Schultz  agree that veterinarians should discuss vaccines with pet owners before they vaccinate.  And Dr. Schultz offers his view on which pets are most likely to develop an adverse reaction to vaccines.
  • Lastly, Dr. Becker and Dr. Schultz discuss the important work the Rabies Challenge Fund is doing to determine the duration of immunity conveyed by rabies vaccines.  The goal is to extend the length of time between rabies vaccines to five years, then, if possible to seven years.  The project is in year six of a seven-year study and depends on grassroots funding to conduct the necessary clinical trials.  This week only, Mercola Healthy Pets will match every $1 donated by readers with a $2 donation, up to $30,000, to help the Rabies Challenge Fund complete its invaluable work toward reducing the number of vaccines our pets must receive during their lifetime.

Nov 8 2013

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How Long Will Your Pet’s Rabies Shot Last? You Might Be Surprised…

Pet vaccines

Story at-a-glance   {full story}

  • Dr. Becker interviews Dr. Jean Dodds of the Rabies Challenge Fund to discuss a wide range of vaccine-related topics, including the confusion surrounding antibody titers – what they are and what they tell us about an animal’s protection against disease.
  • Dr. Dodds discusses the difference between “sterile” or lifetime immunity and the short-lived immunity provided by non-core vaccines against diseases like Lyme, lepto, bordetella, other upper respiratory/kennel cough-type viruses, and canine influenza. She also explains why intranasal bordetella vaccines are preferable to the injectable variety.
  • Dr. Becker and Dr. Dodds talk about the various types of antibody titer tests, the issue of conflicting results among tests, the role the animal’s veterinarian plays in decisions about whether or not to re-vaccinate, and the importance of administering single-agent vs. combination vaccines.
  • Dr. Dodds also discusses maternal immunity – what it is, its role in the timing of puppy and kitten shots, and the value in titering at 16 weeks to insure young animals have been immunized and not simply vaccinated.
  • Finally, Dr. Becker and Dr. Dodds discuss the important work the Rabies Challenge Fund is doing to determine the duration of immunity conveyed by rabies vaccines.  The goal is to extend the length of time between rabies vaccines to five years, then to seven.  The project is in year six of a seven-year study and depends on grassroots funding to conduct the necessary clinical trials.  This week only, Mercola Healthy Pets will match every $1 donated by readers with a $2 donation, up to $30,000, to help the Rabies Challenge Fund complete its invaluable work toward reducing the number of vaccines our pets must receive during their lifetime.

Nov 4 2013

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Titer Testing: Are You Wasting Your Money?

Titer tests? Ha, here's my wallet.

Titer tests?   Ha ha, here’s my wallet.

I’m seeing a potentially dangerous trend among animal owners in pursuit of avoiding vaccinations, a laudable goal.  That same trend can cost you needless money, so gather round, and let’s explore this.

Cheryl wrote in the comments to last week’s post:

One of my furbabies is a little Chihuahua named Ricco who has an enormous amount of skin issues and allergies. When I discovered he had been to about 4 different households in his life before me, I realized that his issues are more than likely due to vaccinosis. He is now slowly on the mend and all my furbabies now get yearly titers. (italics mine)

As I alluded to in my Fallacies of Titer Tests page, titers have value, but using the information from them wrongly will:

  • Hurt your animal
  • Hurt your pocketbook

The Dangers of a Little Knowledge

You are part of a growing community of people seeking to provide the best natural care to your animals. You want them to be Vital Animals, those glowing, well-balanced, fully free animals that bring you joy not only today and this week, but for many happy healthy years into the future. And, when it’s time for them to shuffle off their mortal coil, Vital Animals can usually do this at home, with ease, naturally, and without ERs or euthanasia solutions in the equation.

A large part of getting this glorious outcome depends on you walking the Natural Path, and taking responsibility for the animals in your care. It’s no longer in your best interests to turn that responsibility over to Dr. WhiteCoat, as he’s not on the same path, especially in the most important piece of health care you must decide: vaccinations.

Many of you have, rightly, sought to reduce or eliminate vaccinations after reading in various places that the common practice of repeatedly vaccinating your animal throughout her life is neither useful norsafe. One alternative that’s been offered to you is titer testing.

Titers: What, Why, and When?

Titer tests are blood tests that measure the level of antibodies your animal has made. Your dog goes in, gets a needle poked into a vein, blood is pulled into a syringe and it gets tested, usually in a lab but now perhaps, in your vet’s clinic. You pay anywhere from $40 to $200 to get some numbers on a piece of paper.

Many view these numbers as their “get out of vaccination jail” card. But I submit misreading these numbers may get you and your animal into trouble. Let’s dig in and try to avoid that.

The What: Numbers? I Don’ Need No Steenking Numbers!

The lab report comes back with numbers indicating the amount of antibodies your animal made against those diseases tested (usually canine distemper, parvo, rabies, or feline distemper).

The idea behind titer testing is that if your dog or cat or horse has antibodies against the viruses that threaten to cause disease, you can rest easy that protection exists.

That’s an immunologically sound thought. But only to a point.

The Why: Assessing Immunity

The reason these titers could be of interest is that the numbers on a titer test correlate pretty well with immunity. Immunity is resistance to disease. It’s what we’d like our animals to have, and it’s what we hope is the outcome of those much maligned things called vaccinations.


Vaccination ≠ Immunization

Did you know this? It’s not common knowledge, even among many veterinarians. It’s often assumed that pumping the vaccine into your animal automatically means he’s now safe from the dreaded diseases that could kill him. Not so.

For example, if you vaccinate your pup at six weeks of age, or even younger, there’s about a 50:50 chance that no immunity will result to distemper or parvovirus. Why? Mom’s colostrum gave your pup antibodies against both, and those antibodies are preventing the vaccine from stimulating his own immunity. Mom’s protection is temporary though, and we need long term protection.

Many also think that immunity “runs out” on day 364 since the last vaccine was pumped in. When those postcards come, saying, “Beau is due for his vaccinations! Please call for an appointment today!”, it sets some people into a bit of a panic.

The act of squirting more vaccine under Beau’s skin is somehow thought to be akin to filling an empty reservoir.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

A truth in immunology is this:

Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal.”

And another truth, from the same veterinary immunologists:

“Furthermore, revaccination…fails to stimulate…(further immunity)”

The When: Run a Titer When it Makes Sense. Save Your Money (and your pet!) by Not Running it When it Doesn’t!

It’s a given that titers have limits. Any immunologist knows this. They fail to measure a significant piece of immunity, called cell mediated immunity.

The most useful time to run a titer test is after your youngster has received her initial series of vaccinations. Especially if you’ve limited that series to just one or two vaccinations, the last being after 16 weeks of age. The odds are you’ve just conferred lifetime immunity to your youngster.

If you want to know how effective your vaccinations were in conferring immunity (i.e. did vaccination = immunization?), ask your vet to run a titer test a few weeks later.

Here’s what’s useful in assessing those numbers:

If there’s any measurable titer to the disease in question, your goal has been reached. Your youngster has actively made immunity to those viruses you had squirted in via vaccination. It doesn’t need to meet some standard of “protective” to be useful; it just has to be positive.

That indicates you are more than likely now the proud owner of an immune pet, and you can confidently say “No!” to more vaccines. For how long?

For life.

Falling Titers: Oh-oh or No Big Deal?

Testing yearly will eventually show titers that fall off. Does that mean immunity is gone and you’ve got to head in for a “topping up” of the immunity reservoir?


(And stop thinking that a “reservoir” even exists. I actually hesitated writing this word, as I don’t want you to think this is in any way reality).

It only means the antibody levels are waning. And why wouldn’t they? It’s a waste to keep making more antibodies when there’s no exposure to more virus. In its wisdom, the vital force deems its work is done in this area, and stops pumping more antibodies into the blood.

But, the good news is this: cellular memory is still very likely present to the bad guy you vaccinated against and, should your buddy ever be exposed to this virus again, BOOM, the antibody production factory fires up and the titer rises once again, and rather quickly at that.

So, it’d be a mistake to equate a titer that’s fallen with a lack of protection, and a greater one to think you need more vaccinations to re-establish protection. Immunity is still there, quietly, watchfully alert.

[In the older guys, I like to add a nice immune boost in the form of transfer factors, just to be sure their immune systems are acting out of the greatest responsive intelligence. And perhaps that’s a subject for another blog post.]

Have you used titers?  Does this info help?  Maybe you’ve even seen this: your animal’s titers kept on increasing for years after you stopped vaccinating!   That’s what happened to my colleague’s dog on testing rabies titers.


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